Tech star Mike Lynch acquitted of fraud in £8.6bn deal with Hewlett Packard

6 June 2024, 21:54

Mike Lynch leaving a building in a blue suit
Mike Lynch court case. Picture: PA

The not-guilty verdicts followed an 11-week criminal trial.

Mike Lynch, once hailed as Britain’s king of technology, has been cleared of charges alleging he orchestrated a fraud and conspiracy leading up to an 11-billion-dollar (£8.64 billion) deal that turned into a costly albatross for Silicon Valley pioneer Hewlett Packard (HP).

The not-guilty verdicts reached on Thursday by a federal court jury in San Francisco followed an 11-week criminal trial that delved into the history of HP’s 2011 acquisition of Autonomy, a business software that Mr Lynch founded and then oversaw as chief executive in Britain.

HP at first celebrated the purchase as a huge coup that would propel the Palo Alto, California, company down a promising new path, but then quickly came to regret under its then-chief executive Meg Whitman.

Mike Lynch crosses the road. He is wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase
Former British tech star Mike Lynch was cleared of charges alleging he orchestrated a fraud and conspiracy leading up to an 11 billion dollar deal that turned into a costly albatross for Silicon Valley pioneer Hewlett Packard (Michael Liedtke/AP)

The jury acquitted Mr Lynch on all 15 felony counts facing him.

Towards the end of the trial, US District Judge Charles Breyer threw out a count of securities fraud included in the US Justice Department case against him in an indictment dating back to 2018.

It took years to extradite Mr Lynch from the UK and then more legal wrangling before the trial finally began in mid-March.

Mr Lynch, 58, had been free on 100-million-dollar bail.

Being accused of a massive fraud represented a dramatic turn in fortune for an entrepreneur once described as the Bill Gates of Britain — a title he seemed to live up to when he negotiated the Autonomy sale that generated a more than 800 million dollar windfall for him.

The acquittal vindicates Mr Lynch, who spent years fiercely denying he did anything wrong while painting HP as a technological train wreck.

It’s yet another setback for HP, which had spent years blaming Mr Lynch for duping the company into a deal that deepened its troubles and stained a legacy dating back to the company’s 1939 inception in a Silicon Valley garage.

By Press Association

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