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Autonomy CEO says HP is misleading investors about fraud claims

Autonomy CEO says HP is misleading investors about fraud claims
Hewlett-Packard Co. has accused Autonomy Corp. and its CEO Mike Lynch of accounting improprieties. (Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg)

In a sharply worded letter released Wednesday, Mike Lynch, former chief executive of Autonomy, has accused Hewlett-Packard of misleading shareholders about the accounting problems it claimed to have uncovered at the British company it acquired in 2011.

HP Chief Executive Meg Whitman announced in November 2012 that the company was taking a $5-billion write-down after a whistle-blower had alerted them to widespread fraud at Autonomy. The company referred the matter to a number of U.S. and British regulatory authorities.

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But 15 months later, and just ahead of HP's shareholders meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Lynch released an open letter calling on investors to ask HP a number of questions about these claims.

"I write to you today to raise serious concerns about the way HP has conducted this affair, and to put forward a number of questions that HP management should answer," Lynch writes in the letter. "The evidence shows that HP is not just smearing us, but also misleading you, its shareholders. I ask you to help put things right."

Lynch says HP has declined to show former Autonomy managers any of its evidence while leaking some documents to the media. He asked shareholders to demand that HP release any evidence. And he says HP knew precisely how Autonomy accounts for its sales before it acquired the company, and that its own internal documents would support that. 

In a statement to the Financial Times, an HP spokeswoman said: "As HP has previously reported, it uncovered numerous accounting irregularities at Autonomy before its acquisition by HP. HP reported those irregularities to appropriate civil and criminal regulators in the US and UK. HP continues to co-operate in ongoing investigations by those regulators."

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