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Britain approves extradition of Mike Lynch to U.S. to face charges over HP fraud case

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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 made by U.K. interior minister Priti Patel.

Lynch sold his software start-up Autonomy to HP in 2011 for $11.7 billion.

One year later, HP announced an $8.8 billion writedown on the company, claiming that “accounting irregularities” led it to pay too much for the firm.

Earlier Friday, a British judge ruled in favor of HP in a civil case against Lynch over claims he plotted to inflate the value of Autonomy before it was bought by HP.HP won the majority of the charges, Justice Robert Hildyard said, though the damages would be significantly lower than the $5 billion sought by the company.

On Friday, the U.K. Home Office said it had decided to approve U S. demands to have Lynch extradited. Patel had until midnight to make the decision. Lynch, who denies the allegations, can appeal the ruling. His lawyers say he plans to do so.

Lynch, 56, had formerly gained a reputation as one of the U.K.’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. He was once described in the U.K. 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.

U.S. authorities want him to face charges of securities and wire fraud in relation to the HP-Autonomy deal. Last year, a judge said Lynch should be extradited to the U.S. and gave Patel two months to approve the order.

The news is likely to cast a cloud over Darktrace, the U.K. cybersecurity firm that Lynch has a stake in. Several executives at Darktrace previously worked for Autonomy. For its part, Darktrace says Lynch is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm.

Darktrace listed in London last year and shares of the company have since climbed 60%. Its debut was seen as a key victory in the U.K.’s bid to attract more high-growth tech start-ups to list in the country after its withdrawal from the European Union.

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