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Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch Tuesday called on Hewlett-Packard's board of directors to back up its allegations of accounting improprieties at Autonomy with "specific" data.
"Having no details beyond the limited public information provided last week, and still with no further contact from you, I am writing today to ask you, the board of HP, for immediate and specific explanations for the allegations HP is making," Lynch stated in an open letter. "HP should provide me with the interim report and any other documents which you say you have provided to the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] and the [U.K.'s] SFO [Securities Fraud Office] so that I can answer whatever is alleged, instead of the selective disclosure of non-material information via background discussions with the media."
The open letter comes after HP stunned investors and partners last week by disclosing that it was taking an $8.8 billion write down after what the company called "serious accounting improprieties" by Autonomy, the cloud computing enterprise software company HP acquired last year for $11.1 billion. HP, in effect, claims it was duped into overpaying for Autonomy. Lynch has vehemently denied those allegations.
"It was shocking that HP put non-specific but highly damaging allegations into the public domain without prior notification or contact with me, as former CEO of Autonomy," said Lynch, who HP claims was fired last May after failing to meet internal HP sales targets. "I utterly reject all allegations of impropriety. Autonomy's finances, during its years as a public company and including the time period in question, were handled in accordance with applicable regulations and accounting practices."
Lynch stressed that Autonomy’s accounts were overseen by independent auditors Deloitte LLC, "who have confirmed the application of all appropriate procedures including those dictated by the International Financial Reporting Standards used in the U.K."
Lynch then called on HP to publish the calculations used to determine the $5 billion write down related to Autonomy alleged accounting improprieties.
"In order to justify a $5 billion accounting write down, a significant amount of revenue must be involved," asserted Lynch. "Please explain how such issues could possibly have gone undetected during the extensive acquisition due diligence process and HP’s financial oversight of Autonomy for a year from acquisition until October 2012," a period during which all of the Autonomy finance reported to HP’s CFO Cathie Lesjak.
Lynch specifically questioned whether Lesjak and HP CEO Meg Whitman were aware that HP's Worldwide Director of Software Revenue Recognition Paul Curtis, KPMG and Ernst & Young all conducted detailed studies of Autonomy’s software revenue recognition in December 2011 with the aim of "optimizing for U.S. GAAP [Generally Accepted Accounting Principles]?"