Mike Lynch, co-founder of the UK software firm Autonomy, has been extradited to the United States to face criminal charges in a nearly 10-year legal battle and fall from grace for a man once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates.
Lynch faces 17 charges over Hewlett Packard’s (HP’s) $11bn acquisition of Autonomy, the firm he grew into Britain’s leading tech company before it spectacularly unravelled after being bought by HP in 2011.
Britain’s interior ministry said on Friday that Lynch was extradited on Thursday.
He arrived in San Francisco on a commercial flight accompanied by US marshals, court documents showed.
Appearing in court on Thursday, Lynch was ordered by a judge to pay a $100m bond, hand over his passport and be placed under 24-hour guard to secure his release.
Lynch, 57, who has always denied any wrongdoing, could face 20 years in prison.
Once lauded by academics, scientists and politicians for setting up a software giant from his ground-breaking research at Cambridge University, Lynch has spent the last decade fighting lawsuits related to the HP takeover.
The deal quickly soured. Within a year, HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8bn and later brought a civil lawsuit in London against Lynch and Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain.
A British judge ruled in January 2022 that Lynch had masterminded an elaborate fraud to inflate the value of Autonomy, meaning the Silicon Valley company substantially succeeded in its civil case.
Lynch had said HP did not know what it was doing with Autonomy and was out of its depth in understanding his technology.
Meanwhile, the US had brought criminal charges against Lynch for wire fraud and securities fraud.
He fought extradition proceedings, but on April 21, Britain’s High Court refused him permission to appeal. His lawyers had argued that he should be prosecuted in Britain.
“The United States’ legal overreach into the UK is a threat to the rights of all British citizens and the sovereignty of the UK,” Lynch said in April when his appeal was rejected.
Lynch pleaded not guilty to the 17 counts he faces in the US, court documents showed, and a status conference will be held on May 19 to set a date for the trial. His wealth was estimated at $450m by the court.
In 2019, Hussain was convicted of fraud in the US and sentenced to five years in prison.
Lynch’s high-profile legal battles have also raised questions for Darktrace, a FTSE 250 British cybersecurity company.
Lynch was central to its creation, and he and his wife, Angela Bacares, own about 10 percent of the 2-billion-pound ($2.5bn) company, according to Refinitiv data.
Darktrace said in February that Lynch played no part in running it and was not on its board.
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