Autonomy founder Lynch fights extradition to US on fraud charges

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) – Tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch asked a London court to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges over Hewlett Packard’s $11 billion acquisition of his software company Autonomy, arguing he should be prosecuted in Britain.

Lynch – the co-founder of Autonomy, who was once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates – faces 17 charges over the 2011 takeover, which was one of Britain’s biggest tech deals. Lynch denies any wrongdoing.

HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8 billion within a year of the deal and brought a civil lawsuit in London against Lynch and Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain.

The Silicon Valley company “substantially succeeded” in its lawsuit, a judge said in January 2022, though any damages will be “considerably less” than the $5 billion sought by HP.

Britain’s interior ministry on the same day ordered Lynch’s extradition to the United States.

His lawyers told London’s High Court on Wednesday that Lynch should be prosecuted in Britain, where the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has reserved the right to prosecute him if he is not extradited.

Alex Bailin, representing Lynch, who sat at the back of the court, said Autonomy was a British company which was listed in London and that the “overwhelming majority” of the events on which the U.S. had based criminal charges took place in Britain.

Lawyers representing the U.S. government argued in court filings there was no reason to block Lynch’s extradition, saying the SFO has ceded jurisdiction to U.S. prosecutors.

Bailin also gave updated details of HP’s civil lawsuit against Lynch and Hussain, who was jailed in a San Francisco court for five years in 2019.

Lynch intends to apply for permission to appeal against the ruling on HP’s lawsuit, Bailin said in court filings.

Bailin added that the issue of any appeal has been delayed until after the amount of damages to be paid to HP has been determined, which he said “remains completely unresolved”.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; editing by Barbara Lewis)