Autonomy Trial The judge in the long-running Autonomy trial has joked that it's a "very strange feeling" not to see the British firm's former CEO in the witness box after Mike Lynch's marathon testimony to the High Court finally ended.
Rounding off Lynch's four solid weeks of giving evidence about what happened before and after Autonomy plc was bought by Hewlett Packard, as was, in August 2011, Mr Justice Hildyard told his courtroom: "I looked at the witness box for Dr Lynch. It's a very strange feeling."
Lynch had been subjected to a gruelling weeks-long cross-examination by barrister Laurence Rabinowitz QC for HPE. Earlier this week, Lynch accused one-time HP CEO Meg Whitman of trying to "kill" his first post-Autonomy business venture, Invoke Capital, by timing the announcement of the alleged Autonomy fraud's discovery with his fund's launch.
"The first thing that Meg Whitman does is go on live television and has a whole set of studios booked, one after the other, to make those allegations," complained Lynch, adding: "We're not given any chance to be prepared. We're not given any chance to correct it. We're not given any chance to put the other side of the story."
"Meg Whitman tried to kill us on the 20th [November 2012], she went on live TV and she hoped that that would be it... she got us to our knees but we fought back," he added.
Invoke Capital was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven, and at its founding in 2012, its key personnel comprised Lynch himself, co-defendant Sushovan Hussain, and two former Autonomy people, chief operating officer Andy Kanter and chief marketing officer Nicole Eagan. Lynch claimed in court that he didn't know much about the details of how Invoke was registered in the BVI.
Nope, didn't delete emails
Under questioning from Rabinowitz, Lynch also denied instructing Hussain and top US salesman Christopher "Stouffer" Egan to agree a coverup story that blamed HP for Autonomy's poor post-buyout performance.
Rabinowitz showed Lynch a series of emails between him and Hussain, including one instructing Hussain to "Call Stof" [Egan]. Suggesting that the emails had disappeared from HP's systems after the buyout and that it had only been found by chance in emails disclosed by Lynch's lawyers from their own sources, Rabinowitz asked: "Did you and Mr Hussain discuss deleting this email from the system?"
Lynch replied: "I have no knowledge of an email being deleted from the system and, as I say, as a general rule my emails weren't kept on a mail server anyway."
Later, the court saw emails from late 2012 sent between Hussain and his wife containing a draft of his resignation letter from Autonomy. Hussain, said Lynch, took Autonomy's revenue miss for Q2 2012, by nearly 50 per cent, "personally". As read out to the court, the draft email said:
Despite the help provided by Meg and team last night I have failed to achieve the targets set for Q2. I take responsibility for this and I am truly sorry.
After considering all the reasons I feel that I cannot be successful and that I am not the man you need to achieve the end goals. So I am tendering my resignation. I have very much enjoyed working with you and the Autonomy team for the last 11 years.
Rabinowitz questioned why Hussain then forwarded this from his private email address, in draft format, to Lynch's private email address.
The final version of Hussain's resignation letter, as sent over company email addresses, was worded as follows:
Further to our conversations over the past few days, it is with great regret that I am confirming my resignation as president of Autonomy. It has been an extraordinary 11 years and I appreciate all of the opportunities Autonomy and HP have given me.
I believe that the HP structure may be better suited to other people's skills than mine, and look forward to whatever assistance I can provide during a transition.
The barrister said to Lynch: "You told Mr Hussain that in the final version he should remove all references to him taking responsibility for the revenue targets having been missed?"
In the court transcript, Lynch's reply is recorded as "mm-hm". Rabinowitz, unsatisfied with the murmur, asked again: "Correct?"
"I don't know," said Lynch.
Rounding off the month's evidence, Mr Justice Hildyard said at the end of last week: "This has been a huge exegesis and I'm many moons from making any even preliminary thoughts in my mind."
The Autonomy trial is adjourned until September. The Register will be rounding up the key moments from all 59 days of courtroom hearings so far later this month. The case will overrun into January 2020 by a few days, with a potential judgment day being scheduled for May. ®