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UK anti-fraud officials drop Autonomy investigation

Serious Fraud Office cites lack of evidence; US probe continues

UK anti-fraud officials drop Autonomy investigation
HP wants Autonomy executives and the company’s auditor, Deloitte, held to account.

UK anti-fraud officials scrutinising Hewlett-Packard's fraught acquisition of software firm Autonomy have stopped their investigation, the Financial Times reported.

The Serious Fraud Office launched the probe in 2013, at HP's request, after alleged accounting irregularities were discovered at Autonomy in the months following the $11.1bn takeover. HP was forced to take a multi-billion-dollar writedown in response to the crisis.

The SFO yesterday said it was closing the investigation because "there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction" and added that "jurisdiction over the investigation has been ceded to the US authorities whose investigation is ongoing".

HP wants Autonomy founder Mike Lynch, ex-CFO Sushovan Hussain and the company's auditor Deloitte held to account. All have denied any wrongdoing.

HP said it "[We] remain committed to holding the architects of the Autonomy fraud accountable," the US company said in a statement. "As the SFO made clear, the US authorities are continuing their investigation and we continue to co-operate with that investigation."

Lynch said he welcomed the SFO's decision and said HP had "presented the case in public as a slam dunk. HP now faces serious questions of its own about its conduct in this case."

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