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Autonomy Founder Mike Lynch Acquitted of Fraud Charges in San Francisco Trial

by Ivy

In a significant legal victory, Autonomy founder Mike Lynch was acquitted of fraud charges by a jury in San Francisco on Thursday. The verdict marks a pivotal moment for Lynch, who has grappled with legal challenges since the controversial sale of his company to Hewlett-Packard (HP) for $11 billion in 2011.

Representatives for Lynch and U.S. prosecutors confirmed that he was cleared of all 15 charges, including one count of conspiracy and 14 counts of wire fraud, each tied to specific transactions or communications. Former Autonomy finance executive Stephen Chamberlain, who faced identical charges alongside Lynch, was also acquitted on all counts.

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The trial, which lasted three months, revolved around allegations that Lynch and Chamberlain engaged in fraudulent activities to inflate Autonomy’s revenue, following its acquisition by HP. The sale, initially hailed as one of the largest British tech deals, quickly soured, leading HP to write down Autonomy’s value by $8.8 billion within a year.

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Expressing his satisfaction with the verdict, Lynch, once likened to tech luminaries such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, stated, “I am elated with today’s verdict. I am looking forward to returning to the UK and getting back to what I love most: my family and innovating in my field.” Abraham Simmons, a spokesperson for the Office of the United States Attorney, acknowledged and respected the jury’s decision.

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During the trial, jurors heard from over 30 government witnesses, including former HP CEO Leo Apotheker. Lynch, taking the stand in his defense, refuted any wrongdoing and attributed the integration failures between Autonomy and HP to the latter’s mismanagement. Prosecutors alleged that Lynch and Chamberlain engaged in various tactics to artificially inflate Autonomy’s finances, including back-dated agreements and dubious contracts. Lynch’s defense team countered by arguing that HP rushed through due diligence in its eagerness to acquire Autonomy.

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Lynch’s entrepreneurial journey began with groundbreaking research at Cambridge University, culminating in the establishment of Autonomy, Britain’s largest software company. However, the company’s acquisition by HP ignited a series of legal battles, including a civil lawsuit in London where HP emerged largely victorious. Damages are yet to be determined, with HP seeking $4 billion.

Despite the legal turmoil, Lynch remains a respected figure in the technology realm, having contributed significantly to the advancement of British innovation. His acquittal represents a significant milestone in his ongoing legal saga, with implications for both the tech industry and the broader legal landscape.

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