LONDON/NEW YORK – The UK’s Serious Fraud Office is probing an alleged A$4.3 billion accounting cover-up at software firm Autonomy, following filings by new owner Hewlett-Packard.LONDON/NEW YORK – The UK’s Serious Fraud Office is probing an alleged A$4.3 billion accounting cover-up at software firm Autonomy, following filings by new owner Hewlett-Packard.
In filing its quarterly report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, H-P said that the UK Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation related to the acquisition of Autonomy, which was later written down amid allegations its managers misreported finances.
H-P in 2011 bought the British software company for about $11 billion, but in 2012 wrote down $8.8 billion of Autonomy’s value, blaming fraudulent accounting at the company – an accusation Autonomy’s former leader has denied.
“Representatives of the UK Serious Fraud Office advised H-P that they had also opened an investigation relating to Autonomy,” H-P said.
Several former Autonomy executives, along with entrepreneur Mike Lynch (pictured)– who founded and ran Autonomy – now face questioning by officials on both sides of the Atlantic and could face jail if found guilty.
The London Daily Mail last week reported that Lynch had hired high profile lawyer Reid Weingarten of Steptoe & Johnson who has previously represented filmmaker Roman Polanski and Enron executive Richard Causey.
The Serious Fraud Office is the second UK regulatory body to have Autonomy in its sights. Last month the Financial Reporting Council launched its own probe into the matter.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the US Justice Department, aided by the FBI, has already begun its own investigation into the allegations.
A number of analysts questioned the Autonomy’s success back in 2009, claiming its soaring stockmarket value was based on “questionable data” and “fuzzy logic”.