UK authorizes extradition of Mike Lynch to US to face HP fraud expenses

Mike Lynch, former CEO of Autonomy.

Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON – British tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch is to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges in connection with the sale of his company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard, following a decision by British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Lynch sold his software startup Autonomy to HP in 2011 for $11.7 billion.

A year later, HP announced an $8.8 billion writedown on the company, claiming that “accounting irregularities” caused it to overpay for the company.

Earlier Friday, a British judge ruled in favor of HP in a civil case against Lynch over allegations that he planned to increase the value of Autonomy before HP bought it. HP won the majority of the indictments, Judge Robert Hildyard said, although damages are well below the $5 billion the company is seeking.

On Friday, Britain’s Home Office said it had decided to grant US demands for Lynch’s extradition. Patel had until midnight to make the decision. Lynch, who denies the allegations, can appeal the verdict. His lawyers say he plans to do so.

Lynch, 56, had previously earned a reputation as one of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. He was once described in the British press as “Britain’s Bill Gates”.

But claims that Lynch artificially inflated the value of his company before sealing its acquisition by HP have largely tarnished that image.

US authorities want him charged with securities and wire fraud in connection with the HP Autonomy deal. Last year a judge said Lynch should be extradited to the US and gave Patel two months to approve the order.

The news is likely to distress Darktrace, the British cybersecurity firm in which Lynch has a stake. Several Darktrace executives previously worked for Autonomy. For its part, Darktrace says Lynch is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

Darktrace was listed in London last year and the company’s shares are up 60% since then. His debut was seen as a key win in the UK’s attempt to attract more high-growth tech start-ups to list in the country following its exit from the European Union.

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