Britain approves extradition of Mike Lynch to US
Mike Lynch, former CEO of Autonomy.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON — British tech entrepreneur Mike Lynch is set to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges related to the sale of his company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard, after a ruling by UK Home Secretary Priti patel.
Lynch sold its software startup Autonomy to HP in 2011 for $11.7 billion.
A year later, HP announced an $8.8 billion write-down on the company, saying “accounting irregularities” caused it to overpay for the company.
Earlier on Friday, a UK judge ruled in favor of HP in a civil case against Lynch over allegations he conspired to inflate the value of Autonomy before it was purchased by HP. HP won the majority of the charges, Judge Robert Hildyard said, although damages would be significantly less than the $5 billion sought by the company.
On Friday, Britain’s Home Office said it had decided to approve US requests for Lynch’s extradition. Patel had until midnight to make his decision. Lynch, who denies the allegations, can appeal the decision. His lawyers say he is considering doing so.
Lynch, 56, once earned a reputation as one of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. He has already been described in the British press as “Britain’s Bill Gates”.
But claims that Lynch artificially inflated the value of his company before sealing its takeover by HP have largely tarnished that image.
US authorities want him to face charges of securities fraud and wire fraud in connection with the HP-Autonomy deal. Last year, a judge ruled Lynch should be extradited to the United States and gave Patel two months to approve the order.
The news is likely to cast a cloud over Darktrace, the UK cybersecurity company in which Lynch has a stake. Several Darktrace executives previously worked for Autonomy. For its part, Darktrace claims that Lynch is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
Darktrace listed in London last year and the company’s shares have since climbed 60%. Its debut was seen as a key victory in the UK’s bid to attract more high-growth tech start-ups to the country after its withdrawal from the European Union.