“I’ve rejected your various challenges under the Extradition Act,” District Judge Michael Snow told Autonomy founder and investor Dr Mike Lynch at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, clearing his way for possible extradition to the US over alleged fraud in the wake of HP’s $11 billion takeover of Autonomy in 2011.
The decision follows a November 29, 2018 indictment by a US federal grand jury that charged Lynch with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud — alleging that “as part of the alleged scheme to defraud, Autonomy issued materially false and misleading quarterly and annual financial statements which the defendants allegedly provided to HP during the time that HP was considering whether to purchase Autonomy”. Lynch could face a prison term of up to 240 years if found guilty (a maximum for 20 years for each charge).
The judge will now “send your case to the Secretary of State for a decision about whether you are to be extradited to America” — a move likely to spark a diplomatic row. (Lynch can take his appeal to the High Court next. His defence team had expected — in line with statements in court earlier this year — that the extradition case would not proceed until the High Court had ruled in HPE’s civil case against Lynch; one regularly reported from court by the team at The Register.)
Chris Morvillo of Clifford Chance, lawyer for Dr Lynch, said in an emailed comment: “Dr Lynch is disappointed that the Court has ruled against him without waiting for the High Court’s judgment in the civil case that examined all these issues. Dr Lynch denies the charges against him. At the request of the US Department of Justice, the Court has ruled that a British citizen who ran a British company listed on the London Stock Exchange should be extradited to America over allegations about his conduct in the UK. We say this case belongs in the UK. If the Home Secretary nonetheless decides to order extradition, Dr Lynch intends to appeal.”
Morvillo has previous stated that “the claims amount to a business dispute over the application of UK accounting standards, which is the subject of a civil case with HP in the courts of England, where it belongs.”
Commenting on the fallout between HP and Autonomy at a conference in December 2017, Lynch said: “When Hewlett Packard came along… the people that were doing it at the time… had an amazing strategy. What they wanted to do was to take the company, refocus it into this new age of big data and software and machine intelligence and that was exciting and we got convinced by them. The problem was the week after the deal they get fired and we’re left with a hardware group that used to call us the step-child. All the understanding of clever, high growth, software people wasn’t there.”