British tech tycoon is extradited to the US to face fraud charges

British tech tycoon dubbed ‘the UK’s Bill Gates’ is extradited to the US to face fraud charges over £8billion takeover deal – and faces decades in jail if he is convicted

  • Lynch was extradited yesterday after London’s High Court refused an appeal
  • He arrived on commercial flight in San Francisco accompanied by US Marshals

British tech tycoon Mike Lynch has been extradited to the US to stand trial over an alleged multi-billion-pound fraud linked to the sale of a software firm.

Lynch was flown out yesterday after London’s High Court refused an appeal last month amid an investigation into the 2011 sale of Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard (HP).

The 57-year-old’s arrival on a commercial flight in San Francisco accompanied by US Marshals marked the latest development in the long-running legal battle and highlighted the fall from grace for a man once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates.

Lynch faces 17 charges over HP’s $11.7billion (£9.4billion) purchase of Autonomy, the firm he grew into Britain’s leading tech company before it unravelled.

Appearing in court yesterday, Lynch was told by a judge to pay a $100million bond, hand over his passport and to be placed under 24 hour guard to secure his release.

Tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch, pictured at his Suffolk farm, has been extradited to the US

Entrepreneur Mike Lynch arrives for a hearing at the High Court in London in March 2019 

His bail conditions mean he must now be confined to an address in San Francisco and be guarded by private security at his own expense.

Lynch, who is from Suffolk and has always denied any wrongdoing, could face 20 years in prison. His extradition was first ordered in January 2022.

Once lauded by academics, scientists and politicians for setting up a software giant from his ground-breaking research at Cambridge University, he has spent the last decade fighting lawsuits related to the HP takeover.

The deal quickly soured. Within a year, HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8billion (£7billion) and later brought a civil lawsuit in London against Lynch and Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain.

In the lawsuit, a UK judge ruled in January 2022 that Lynch had masterminded an elaborate fraud to inflate the value of Autonomy, meaning the Silicon Valley company substantially succeeded in its civil case.

Lynch had said HP did not know what it was doing with Autonomy, and was out of its depth in understanding his technology.

Meanwhile, the US had brought criminal charges against Lynch for wire fraud and securities fraud.

He fought extradition proceedings but on April 21, London’s High Court refused him permission to appeal. His lawyers had argued that he should be prosecuted in Britain.

Lynch has been extradited to stand trial over an alleged fraud linked to the 2011 sale of software firm Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard (file picture)

‘The United States’s legal overreach into the UK is a threat to the rights of all British citizens and the sovereignty of the UK,’ Lynch said in April when his appeal was rejected.

His spokesman declined to comment to Reuters today.

Lynch pleaded not guilty to 17 counts in court in the US yesterday, court documents show, and a status conference will be held on May 19 to set a date for the trial.

His wealth was estimated at $450million (£360million) by the US courts.

In 2019, Lynch’s former colleague, Hussain, was convicted of fraud in the US and sentenced to five years in prison.

HP’s Autonomy takeover led to the ouster of Leo Apotheker as chief executive in September 2011, and HP subsequently said it had discovered massive accounting irregularities.

Autonomy founder Lynch has previously said that members of his management team were being unjustly blamed for the writedown.

Lynch’s high profile legal battles have also raised questions for Darktrace, a FTSE 250 British cyber security company.

Lynch was central to its creation and he and his wife Angela Bacares own about 10 per cent of the £2billion company, according to Refinitiv data.

Darktrace said in February that Lynch played no part in running it and was not on its board.

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