Fraud battle between HP and Autonomy founder Mike Lynch over $11bn sale enters final rounds

HP is claiming $5bn from UK software firm's founder after its acquisition of software firm turned sour

FILE PHOTO: British entrepreneur Mike Lynch leaves the High Court in London, Britain March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
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As Hewlett-Packard’s $5 billion (Dh18.34bn) fraud trial against Autonomy founder Mike Lynch nears the end, it was a chance for the two sides to trade some old blows and add a few new ones too.

Lynch, who HP has accused of orchestrating a massive fraud at the British software firm, was an unreliable witness who told “lie after lie”, Laurence Rabinowitz, an attorney for the Silicon Valley giant, said on Thursday on the first day of closing arguments. Mr Lynch says the whole claim is manufactured to explain away HP’s disastrous management of the $11 billion Autonomy acquisition.

HP said it caught Lynch in a lie during his testimony on a “central episode” when some of the first allegations of misconduct were raised internally at Autonomy. The US firm argues that Mr Lynch sought to play down those concerns and reacted defensively. It said he invented the details of a call in which the wrongdoers were named for the first time.

“This episode reveals Dr Lynch’s propensity to tell deliberate lies whenever he deemed it to be in his interests,” Rabinowitz said.

During the trial, the two sides clashed on whether Autonomy bent the rules to beat stock market expectations and, in so doing, dragged in HP. The lawsuit also looked at whether HP sufficiently scrutinised Autonomy’s books before the deal, in a period when the computing giant sought to transform itself into a software-focused company only to change course months later.

The mammoth London trial started in March and is scheduled to end early next year.

Judge Robert Hildyard is set to decide on the civil allegations as Mr Lynch prepares to fight an extradition battle with the US, where he faces criminal charges of wire and securities fraud. The US request is with British prosecutors who are yet to formally start proceedings.