UK Home Secretary Priti Patel tonight approved Autonomy founder Mike Lynch’s extradition to America to face criminal charges over the multi-billion-dollar sale of his tech startup to Hewlett-Packard.
The British businessman is wanted in the United States to stand trial on 17 charges of fraud and false accounting. American prosecutors claim Lynch overstated his firm’s value and cheated Hewlett Packard investors when he sold his firm Autonomy to the US IT giant in 2011 for $11bn – an acquisition that led to a staggering $8.8bn writedown by HP the following year.
Lynch denies any wrongdoing.
After Uncle Sam indicted Lynch in 2018 and sought to extradite the tech tycoon from the UK to put him on trial, Hewlett Packard Enterprise sued him and Autonomy’s ex-CFO Sushovan Hussain in England, seeking to recoup billions of pounds in damages and accusing the pair of fraudulently cooking the books at the startup to secure that fateful acquisition.
Earlier today, a High Court judge ruled in overall favor of HPE in that civil fraud case. Hours later, and on a deadline, the UK Home Secretary approved Lynch’s extradition having waited for the High Court case outcome.
In July 2021, London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Lynch should be shipped to California to stand trial, as requested by the US Department of Justice, and he has continued to fight that extradition at every turn. Following today’s blow at the High Court, the Home Secretary’s approval seemed inevitable.
“Under the Extradition Act 2003, the Secretary of State must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prohibit the order being made,” a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement.
“Extradition requests are only sent to the Home Secretary once a judge decides it can proceed after considering various aspects of the case. On January 28, following consideration by the courts, the extradition of Dr Michael Lynch to the US was ordered.”
Lynch’s lawyers said he will appeal the decision.
“Dr Lynch firmly denies the charges brought against him in the US and will continue to fight to establish his innocence,” said Chris Morvillo of Clifford Chance.
“He is a British citizen who ran a British company in Britain subject to British laws and rules and that is where the matter should be resolved. This is not the end of the battle — far from it. Dr Lynch will now file an appeal to the High Court in London.”
In 2019, Hussain was sentenced to five years behind bars in California for fraud committed during the sale of Autonomy to HP. ®