THE BATTLE between Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the former executives of UK-based software company Autonomy took another turn yesterday as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) closed its probe into the firm saying there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.
Autonomy, then a darling of the UK’s technology startup community, was sold to HP for $11.7bn (£7.7bn) in 2011.
Just months later HP took a massive $8.8bn writedown on the company and fired founder Mike Lynch, alleging that the company had engaged in “improper accounting practices” covering up falling revenues.
The SFO started an investigation into Autonomy early in 2013, and said yesterday: “In respect of some aspects of the allegations, the SFO has concluded that, on the information available to it, there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”
The SFO added that jurisdiction over the investigation has been passed to US authorities whose investigation is ongoing. The UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) yesterday confirmed that it is still investigating Autonomy.
“We welcome the SFO’s decision to close its investigation,” said Lynch following the announcement. “As we have always said, HP’s allegations are false, and we are pleased that after a two-year review of the material presented by HP, the SFO has concluded that there is not a case to pursue.”
But a spokesperson said HP “remains committed to holding the architects of the Autonomy fraud accountable.”
“As the SFO made clear, the US authorities are continuing their investigation and we continue to co-operate with that investigation.”