Capitalists And Money

Autonomy boss Mike Lynch may be extradited to US soon to face fraud trial

A British software tycoon has failed to delay a ruling on whether he should be extradited to the US over claims that he masterminded an £8 billion fraud.

The High Court decision means that the home secretary could send Mike Lynch, the founder of Autonomy — once arguably the UK’s most successful software company — to face charges in the US within two days.

Lawyers for Lynch, 56, had asked the High Court in judicial review proceedings to overturn an earlier ruling that he should be extradited to face charges in America. They claimed that the founder of the Autonomy software company should not be extradited because the alleged offences did not occur in the US and too much time has passed since they had taken place.

Lynch also argued in the High Court that as British citizen who was the chief executive of a UK company he should not have to face charges in the US. In addition, he claimed that if convicted and jailed in America, prison conditions in that country would breach his human rights.

Yesterday Mr Justice Swift rejected Lynch’s arguments in a decision that means Priti Patel must decide on whether to extradite Lynch within 48 hours.

Lawyers for the home secretary had argued that Patel wanted further time to consider issues before deciding. But in a ruling at Westminster magistrates’ court last July, Judge Michael Snow rejected “various challenges” Lynch made to extradition and said Patel could decide whether he should be extradited.

She later asked Judge Snow if she could have until March to make the decision. But the judge said if more time were required the home secretary would have to set out her reasons more clearly – something he said “has not been done in sufficient detail for my purposes. I am not prepared to grant the application”.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Swift upheld that ruling, saying that the district judge “came nowhere near usurping any function of the secretary of state”.

The US authorities accuse Lynch of being involved in a fraud over the sale of Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for $11 billion, which resulted in “colossal financial losses” for the US company.

Hewlett-Packard allege that Lynch, who co-founded Autonomy in 1996 on the back of post-doctoral work at Cambridge University, overstated the value of his business. He denies all the allegations made against him.

Hewlett-Packard sued Lynch and his former chief financial officer, Sushovan Hussain, for $5 billion over the 2011 deal. It claims it was forced into an $8.8 billion write-down of the company’s value a year after its acquisition.