HP vows legal action against Mike Lynch and Autonomy employees

28 Nov 2012

Autonomy founder Dr Mike Lynch

Tech giant HP has rebuffed a request by Autonomy founder Mike Lynch for transparency on alleged financial impropriety regarding its US$10bn-plus acquisition of his company and the tech giant has said it intends to bring the matter to the law courts.

Last week, HP said it had to incur a US$8.8bn write-down on its financial results for 2012 because of accounting improprieties at the company. CEO Meg Whitman said the Security and Exchange Commission, the FBI and UK police bodies were investigating the matter.

Almost immediately, Irish-born Lynch rejected the allegations and accused HP of mismanaging the acquisition of Autonomy and allowing the company which specialises in enterprise search to flounder once it was within HP’s grasp.

In an open letter to HP, Lynch said yesterday he is seeking transparency on the allegations and wants the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible.

According to All Things Digital, he wrote: “I utterly reject all allegations of impropriety. Autonomy’s finances, during its years as a public company and including the time period in question, were handled in accordance with applicable regulations and accounting practices. Autonomy’s accounts were overseen by independent auditors Deloitte LLC, who have confirmed the application of all appropriate procedures, including those dictated by the International Financial Reporting Standards used in the UK.”

HP wasn’t long in responding and said the matter is now in the hands of the authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Offices and the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, as well as the US Department of Justice.

“We will defer to them as to how they wish to engage with Dr Lynch. In addition, HP will take legal action against the parties involved at the appropriate time.

“While Dr Lynch is eager for a debate, we believe the legal process is the correct method in which to bring out the facts and take action on behalf of our shareholders. In that setting, we look forward to hearing Dr Lynch and other former Autonomy employees answer questions under penalty of perjury,” HP said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years