HP’s revenge? Former boss of Autonomy Mike Lynch is to wait a week to find out if a decision about his extradition to the US can be delayed
The former Autonomy CEO and co-founder Dr Mike Lynch will have to wait a week to find out if his extradition to the United States will delayed until the result of another court case.
Ever since December 2019, Dr Lynch has been fighting a US Department of Justice (DoJ) extradition request, that was filed despite him being locked in an ongoing High Court fight against HPE over its acquisition of Autonomy in 2011.
Mr Justice Swift, sitting in the Administrative Court for Tuesday’s judicial review hearing on the extradition, said he would hand down his judgement next week, The Register reported.
Justice Swift reportedly heard how a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court had rejected “various challenges” Dr Lynch had made against the US extradition, and had ruled that Home Secretary Priti Patel could decide whether to extradite him.
The Home Secretary had subsequently asked District Judge Michael Snow if she could have until March 2022 to make the extradition decision.
Priti Patel wants to consider another judge’s ruling, in a separate High Court case involving Lynch, before making an extradition decision.
That ruling (by Mr Justice Hildyard) is expected anytime now.
Judge Snow however refused her application and said the Home Secretary should make an extradition decision before Christmas.
Mike Lynch challenged that ruling by Judge Snow, and wants Justice Swift to overturn it.
Justice Swift said he would hand down judgement next week.
It comes after lawyers representing the US government on Tuesday argued that Lynch’s challenge to Judge Snow’s ruling should be dismissed.
It should be remembered that Justice Hildyard began overseeing the High Court trial in London battle more than two years ago (March 2019), but the US essentially wants to pre-empt the High Court’s verdict, and take Dr Lynch to stand trial in San Francisco before a decision is reached in that trial.
This US attempt has previously been condemned by MP David Davies, who said America’s attempt to extradite the tech billionaire had come at an “extraordinarily inappropriate time” (i.e. when there is already another legal case ongoing).
Dr Lynch is facing 17 counts of US charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy and securities fraud, which carries a maximum term of 25 years in prison.
Lynch continues to deny all charges,and has also stated that the dispute stems from a misunderstanding of UK and US accounting rules.
Lynch, alongside former Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussain, is currently being sued at the High Court in London, seeking $5bn in damages.
Dr Lynch on the witness stand has previously denied HP’s allegations that he mislead markets and inflated his firm’s value before it was sold to Hewlett Packard (HP) for $11bn (£8.7 billion) in 2011.
During his lengthy testimony on the stand, the 54 year old hit out at HP and its management, in particular HP’s former CEO Meg Whitman (she is now the US Ambassador to Kenya).
Dr Lynch said that Whitman was “out of her depth” and “could not cope with all the fires” at the company.
Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain in 2018 was found guilty in the US of artificially inflating the firm’s financial position before it was sold. Hussain is currently serving five years in prison in the US.
HP’s acquisition of Autonomy in 2011 was the largest-ever buyout of a European technology firm at the time. The deal was intended to spearhead HP’s move into software, but instead HP a year later wrote off three-quarters of what it had paid.
In September 2016 HPE sold its software business, including the Autonomy operation, to British IT firm Micro Focus for only $8.8 billion (£7bn).
In April 2015 HP had sued Hussain and Autonomy co-founder Mike Lynch for $5.1 billion in London’s High Court of Justice, making similar claims of fraud, in a case believed to be the largest-ever civil prosecution of British nationals.
On this side of the Atlantic, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Britain closed its investigation into the sale of Autonomy to HP, claiming there was ‘insufficient evidence’ for a realistic prospect of conviction.
Dr Mike Lynch countersued HP for $160m in 2015, saying at the time the company had ruined his reputation and that it was “incompetent in its operation of Autonomy”, leading to the acquisition’s failure.