US files criminal charges against Irish born Mike Lynch over HP sale

The United States has filed criminal charges against Mike Lynch over the $11bn (€9.6bn) sale of the British software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard seven years ago, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

The newspaper said that the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and include 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud.

Irish born entrepreneur Lynch co-founded Autonomy in 1996 and served as its CEO.

In 2011, the company was bought by HP for $11bn in a move that was supposed to form the central part of the US group’s move into software.

But the deal turned sour a year later when HP wrote off three-quarters of the British company’s value, accusing Lynch and his colleagues of financial mismanagement.

Lynch has always denied any wrongdoing. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

The newspaper quoted lawyers for Lynch as saying the indictment was a “travesty of justice” and that he would contest the charges.

HP has tried to sue Lynch while he countersued HP in 2015, saying at the time that “HP was simply incompetent in its operation of Autonomy, and the acquisition was doomed from the very beginning.” Those cases have been delayed by the criminal investigation in the US.

The FT reported that Stephen Chamberlain, a former Autonomy finance executive, had also been charged.

Lynch sits on the British government’s council for science and technology which advises Prime Minister Theresa May, the FT said.

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