Autonomy founder Mike Lynch accused of lying in fraud trial

Lawyer for claimants Hewlett-Packard tells court evidence was ‘untrue and unreliable’

Mike Lynch, once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates, has been accused of lying repeatedly and inventing evidence on the witness stand in a £3.8bn civil fraud trial.

Lynch faces the claim from successor companies to Hewlett-Packard (HP), which allege the entrepreneur fraudulently inflated the value of Autonomy, the software company he founded, before its disastrous £8.4bn acquisition by HP.

Representing the claimants, Laurence Rabinowitz QC told the high court in London that Lynch’s evidence was “untrue and unreliable” as he began closing submissions following months of evidence.

Rabinowitz said: “Dr Lynch was a thoroughly unreliable witness. A witness willing to lie to the court whenever it was necessary.”

As well as the civil case in London, Lynch faces criminal charges in the US.

US authorities last month formally requested his extradition to face charges including securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.

Lynch denies all of the criminal and civil allegations, as does his co-defendant, Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain.

A US court jailed Hussain for five years in May for fraud in relation to the HP acquisition.

In closing submissions in court on Thursday, Lynch described the allegations as a “witch hunt” after HP experienced “buyer’s remorse” following a botched merger.

Lynch founded Autonomy in 1996, using his doctorate in adaptive pattern recognition from Cambridge University to develop software to sort through massive unstructured data sets.

Lynch, who has a net worth of £469m, according to the Sunday Times, became a darling of the British tech scene. Autonomy, which counted the Vatican and Tottenham Hotspur football club among its clients, attracted the attention of HP as it pivoted away from struggling hardware sales, but HP subsequently wrote down $8.8bn as the merger turned sour.

Much of the evidence concerned complex accounting issues, but in court on Thursday Rabinowitz focused on Lynch’s character as a witness. That included the alleged invention of evidence on the witness stand in response to questioning about a whistleblower.

The claimants alleged Lynch invented a phone call mid-trial in which the whistleblower named executives guilty of wrongdoing. Lynch has previously denied inventing the call. The claimants said Lynch did not call a witness capable of corroborating his account, citing unspecified “medical issues”, despite the potential witness taking part in a four-day superyacht challenge in Antigua in February.

“There is not just one lie here, but a whole series of them, one after the other,” Rabinowitz said.

The case, which began in March, will continue into the new year, with a judgment not expected until spring at the earliest.


Jasper Jolly

The GuardianTramp

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