Mike Lynch's British court showdown v HPE pushed back to 2019

US corp asked for extra time to file expert witness statements


Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s civil lawsuit against former Autonomy chief exec Mike Lynch has been pushed back to next year, The Register has learned.

The civil litigation was first filed in April 2015 and boiled down to HP (as it then was, pre-split) wanting to lynch Lynch for allegedly lying about the state of Autonomy’s finances before HPE bought it for $11bn.

As everyone knows, HPE infamously wrote down Autonomy’s value by $8.8bn after completing the buyout and getting a detailed look at Autonomy’s books. The company, originally based in Cambridge under the name Autonomy Corporation plc, specialised in enterprise-level analysis of big data. HPE has alleged, among other things, that Lynch and his co-director and one-time CFO Sushovan Hussein “engaged in fraudulent activities while executives at Autonomy,” including “serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures, and outright misrepresentations.”

HPE's suit against Lynch and former Autonomy chief financial officer Sushovan Hussein seeks $5bn in damages.

For his part, Lynch denies all wrongdoing and counter-sued HPE in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London, stating at the time that HPE was “simply incompetent in its operation of Autonomy” after taking control of it.

The HPE v Lynch trial had been pencilled in for this year, but legal applications by HPE have resulted in the trial being pushed back to next year. Mr Justice Hildyard, a Chancery Division judge, has ordered that a fresh trial date be set for 25 March 2019.

HPE told The Register in December at Discover 2017 in Madrid that the trial was still on course for this year, which court documents seen by us seemingly confirmed.

Following the criminal conviction of Sushovan Hussein in an American federal court at the end of April, we asked HPE whether the civil case was on track because Hussein is still named as a co-defendant.

After some toing and froing by an HPE PR rep, The Register obtained a copy of the court order confirming HPE had asked for the trial to be delayed so expert witness reports could be prepared. HPE then declined to comment.

In addition, earlier this year HPE successfully added Autonomy Corporation Limited as a claimant against Lynch and Hussein – a bitter, albeit minor, blow for its founder and one-time chief exec.

54-year-old Hussein is expected to be jailed in August, having been released on bail after the US court found him guilty of fraud. American federal prosecutors described Autonomy in court as an “unsustainable Ponzi scheme”. His lawyer, one John Keker, lamented after his client was found guilty: “It is a shame that the United States Department of Justice lent its support to HP’s campaign to blame others for its own catastrophic failings.”

Notably, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, a financial investigatory agency, declined to take any action against Hussein – in part because the US investigation was under way at that point.

Lynch, contacted via his Autonomy Accounts website, had not responded by the time of publication. The Register will continue covering the case. ®

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