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Business chiefs deny US$5 billion fraud over HP-Autonomy deal

Business chiefs deny US$5 billion fraud over HP-Autonomy deal

FILE PHOTO: The logo for The Hewlett-Packard Company is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LONDON: Bosses at a UK software firm, Autonomy, have denied committing fraud to inflate its value before selling the group to US tech giant Hewlett-Packard in 2011, a court heard Monday (Mar 25).

Autonomy's founder Mike Lynch and former group financial officer Sushovan Hussain are before the UK High Court in a trial expected to last about nine months.

The start of the trial heard that HP announced a US$8.8 billion write down on Autonomy's value around one year after its acquisition.

A statement released on behalf of Lynch to coincide with the trial's opening insisted there "was no fraud at Autonomy".

It added: "The real story is that HP, after a history of failed acquisitions, botched the purchase of Autonomy and destroyed the company, seeking to blame others."

But representing HP, lawyer Laurence Rabinowitz said the accused pair knowingly caused Autonomy to "engage in a programme of widespread and systematic fraudulent" accounting ahead of the sale.

HP purchased Autonomy for some US$11 billion.

In the US, Hussain is awaiting sentence after a court there found him guilty of fraud linked to the sale of Autonomy, while Lynch faces similar charges.

The statement issued on behalf of Lynch added that "this is a case that distils down to a dispute over differences between UK and US accounting systems".

Source: AFP/na

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