HomeTechUK tech tycoon Mike Lynch acquitted of all fraud charges

UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch acquitted of all fraud charges


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UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch has been acquitted of all fraud charges by a jury in a high-profile trial in the United States.

The founder of Autonomy had faced 16 counts of fraud – and a potential 20 years behind bars – over the sale of the business to Hewlett-Packard for $11.1 billion in 2011. 

One charge of securities fraud was dropped after the trial began and Lynch has now been acquitted of the other 15 charges.

Stephen Chamberlain, an executive who worked in the finance team at Autonomy, was also found not guilty on the same charges.

Lynch had been extradited to the US to stand trial after he was first charged in 2018, accused of inflating sales and misleading regulators as well as HP, which wrote down value of Autonomy by $8.8bn soon after the deal went through.

The former UK government adviser – who also sat on the boards of the BBC and the British Library – went on trial in March in San Francisco and has been under house arrest.

“I am elated with today’s verdict and grateful to the jury for their attention to the facts over the last 10 weeks,” said Lynch. “My deepest thanks go to my legal team for their tireless work on my behalf. 

“I am looking forward to returning to the UK and getting back to what I love most: my family and innovating in my field.”

‘Lack of reliance on outside funding puts us in pole position’

Lynch founded Autonomy in Cambridge in 1996. Its software was designed to extract information from unstructured communications including phone calls, emails and video.

US prosecutors had accused him of inflating its value using backdated sales agreements, hiding its loss-making hardware resale business and intimidating – or paying off – those who spoke out about the practices.

However the jury did not agree with them that Lynch was the “driving force” behind the accounting improprieties.

‘Don’t waste time on unsuitable investors’

Testifying as the final witness, he admitted the company was “not perfect” but said, as a technical CEO, he did not have a great deal of oversight over its day-to-day business dealings or accounting practices, preferring to delegate these responsibilities to other members of the executive team.

Chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain was found guilty of fraud in 2018 and later sentenced to five years in prison.

Lynch’s attorneys Christopher Morvillo and Brian Heberlig hailed the jury’s “resounding rejection” of the government’s “profound overreach” in the case.

“The evidence presented at trial demonstrated conclusively that Mike Lynch is innocent,” they stated. “This verdict closes the book on a relentless 13-year effort to pin HP’s well-documented ineptitude on Dr Lynch. Thankfully, the truth has finally prevailed.”

Abraham Simmons, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office, said: “We acknowledge and respect the verdict. We would like to thank the jury for its attentiveness to the evidence the government presented in this case.”

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