Ex-Autonomy CEO Welcomes U.K Serious Fraud Office Probe

A spokesperson for former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch confirmed Tuesday that the U.K Serious Fraud Office is investigating Autonomy's accounting prior to being acquired by Hewlett-Packard, but said Lynch welcomes the contact from the independent government agency.

"We had written to them in December to request a meeting because we want to know the substance of HP's vague allegations and want to have a chance to respond to them," Lynch's spokesperson said Tuesday in an emailed statement to media outlets.

"We continue to have confidence that HP's allegations are without merit. ... We look forward to seeing the situation resolved as soon as possible," the spokesperson said in the statement.

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The SFO acknowledged the investigation in a Tuesday statement on its website. At the same time, the SFO revealed that it uses Autonomy's Introspect document management tool and said it is looking into whether this could represent a conflict of interest that would prevent it from acting as the investigating agency in the case.

The SFO also noted that "the opening of a criminal investigation does not mean that individuals are guilty of a crime or indeed that a crime has been committed."

HP said Monday in its 10-Q filing that the SFO opened an investigation of Autonomy's former management on Feb. 6.

"HP has provided information to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP's acquisition of Autonomy," HP said in its 10-Q.

The U.S. Department of Justice last November launched its own investigation into alleged accounting improprieties surrounding the deal, HP said in its annual 10-K filing in late December.

The Financial Reporting Council, a U.K.-based agency that describes itself on its website as "responsible for promoting high quality corporate governance and reporting to foster investment," last month launched an investigation into Autonomy's financial reporting between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011.


This story was updated on Tuesday, March 12, at 10:08 p.m. ET, to clarify that Autonomy's former management is the target of the investigation.