Not guilty: how tech mogul Mike Lynch’s fortunes soared, fell – and rose again

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“This is simply a momentous time successful Autonomy’s history,” Mike Lynch declared successful a property merchandise connected 18 August 2011. He was announcing nan waste Autonomy, his package firm, to Hewlett-Packard for $11bn.

For Lynch 6 June 2024 would beryllium much significant.

After a saga spanning almost 13 years, Lynch – erstwhile dubbed “Britain’s Bill Gates” – was cleared of fraud pursuing a lengthy proceedings successful nan bosom of Silicon Valley. The verdict amounts to a stunning reversal successful fortunes for nan entrepreneur.

On Thursday, Lynch said he was “elated” to person been recovered not guilty. “The truth has yet prevailed,” his lawyers declared.

He now plans to alert location to nan UK, wherever he still faces a conflict to clear his name. HP largely won a civilian lawsuit against Lynch and Sushovan Hussain, different apical autonomy executive, successful London 2 years ago. The institution is seeking $4bn successful damages. Lynch has antecedently indicated he plans to entreaty nan ruling.

By each accounts, nan takeover was disastrous. Just 5 weeks aft it was announced, nan HP CEO who signed disconnected connected nan woody was sacked. Lynch departed Autonomy aft little than a year. The lucrative takeover had fleetingly cemented Lynch’s estimation arsenic 1 of Britain’s astir successful tech tycoons. Its existent bequest was much than a decade of acrimonious ineligible wrangling.

In November 2012, HP’s caller guidance wrote down nan worth of Autonomy by $8.8bn, alleging “serious” accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and “outright misrepresentations” earlier nan purchase. After years of investigations and ineligible proceedings connected some sides of nan Atlantic, a US national expansive assemblage indicted Lynch connected criminal charges successful November 2018. After nan civilian lawsuit concluded, nan UK agreed to extradite him.

His ineligible problems mounted past year. Having mostly mislaid nan UK civilian lawsuit, Lynch mislaid a UK precocious tribunal bid to entreaty his extradition. Weeks later, he was connected a level to California.

This San Francisco trial, connected much than a twelve counts of fraud, amounted to a steep climb for Lynch, who unsuccessfully fought to debar extradition to nan US. Federal prosecutors person a fearsome grounds of blameworthy verdicts, and Lynch’s lawyers were forced to set their defense up of nan trial.

From nan commencement of this saga, Lynch insisted Autonomy’s unravelling was nan consequence of HP’s mismanagement of a prized plus alternatively than fraud. But nan US territory judge presiding complete nan trial, Charles Breyer, barred Lynch’s lawyers from presenting grounds which they said made this case.

Unable to attraction connected nan aftermath of nan takeover, Lynch’s defense was built upon connected 3 cardinal arguments: first, that moving a business for illustration Autonomy is acold much analyzable than prosecutors would person nan assemblage believe; second, that Lynch was a acold different man to nan characteristic he had been portrayed as; and third, that HP rushed to seal nan deal, racing done owed diligence.

The government’s lawsuit was “black and white”, Reid Weingarten, 1 of Lynch’s attorneys, declared successful nan opening days of nan trial. “And you cognize what? You’re going to spot successful this proceedings that ain’t nan measurement nan world works. The world useful successful grey. The world is complicated.”

Life is “nuanced, and it is messy”, Lynch told nan court, suggesting his proceedings was efficaciously “peering done nan doorway and seeing nan sausage being made. One point to carnivore successful mind is if you return nan microscope into a spotless kitchen, you will ever find bacteria. And I don’t deliberation Autonomy is immoderate different.”

Prosecutors tried to overgarment Lynch arsenic an intimidating, ruthless businessman who was responsible for each facet of Autonomy’s empire. Jurors heard astir nan piranha vessel successful nan atrium of nan company’s headquarters, and gathering rooms named aft James Bond villains.

Lynch recovered it “surreal” to perceive authorities witnesses attest astir galore discussions and decisions of which he said he had not been aware. He said he delegated jobs wherever he had nary expertise, and successful his second years astatine Autonomy spent “about 30%” of his clip pinch family and connected different interests.

“We judge nan amended you cognize him, nan amended disconnected we are,” Weingarten told nan jury, earlier Lynch testified.

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Prosecutors said Lynch had “500m reasons” to perpetrate fraud – 1 for each of nan pounds they claimed he had earned nan HP’s takeover of Autonomy. But nan institution had wanted to stay independent, according to Lynch.

It was 1 of nan stars of London’s FTSE 100 stock index, and still pursuing its ain acquisitions. By Lynch’s telling, it was only a gathering pinch an HP executive astatine a luxury location successful nan English countryside which persuaded him to commencement considering a woody – and a 64% premium connected Autonomy’s banal value that yet prompted nan institution to accept.

HP was truthful wished to expeditiously toggle shape itself from hardware shaper to package giant, Lynch claimed, that nan first clip he saw nan press release announcing its takeover of his institution was erstwhile it was released. The process was a “complete mess”, he reflected connected nan stand.

The prosecution based on HP’s handling of nan process was irrelevant. For years, they alleged, Lynch had orchestrated a immense fraud and Autonomy had utilized a assortment of accounting tricks to inflate its income growth.

But Lynch stressed that HP was “not astatine all” misled astir Autonomy’s value. A assemblage of Californians believed him, rejecting nan lawsuit laid retired successful awesome item by nan US government, which summoned much than 30 witnesses.

Six years ago, successful nan aforesaid court, a assemblage came to a different conclusion astir 1 of Lynch’s closest business partners. Hussain, who worked arsenic Autonomy’s main financial officer, was convicted successful 2018 connected charges of conspiracy, ligament fraud and securities fraud related to nan deal. He was released from a US situation successful January aft serving a five-year sentence.

Lynch, who astatine nan tallness of his profession was awarded an OBE (Order of nan British Empire) and advised nan UK premier minister, spent overmuch of nan twelvemonth earlier his proceedings monitored by 2 equipped guards astir nan clock, nether effective location arrest. The specter of much than 2 decades successful prison, were he convicted, loomed large.

On Thursday, nan businessman near tribunal a free man. “I americium looking guardant to returning to nan UK and getting backmost to what I emotion most: my family and innovating successful my field,” he said.

Another momentous day.

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Source theguardian
theguardian