Feds Launch Autonomy Investigation: HP

Federal investigators have begun probing allegations of financial impropriety related to Hewlett-Packard subsidiary Autonomy. From HP’s latest Form 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

“As a result of the findings of an ongoing investigation, HP has provided information to the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP’s acquisition of Autonomy. On November 21, 2012, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice advised HP that they had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. HP is cooperating with the three investigating agencies.”

Back in November, HP accused Autonomy’s management team of using “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company.” Those metrics were so inflated, in HP’s reckoning, that it felt obliged to take an $8.8 billion write-down on Autonomy’s value. HP also alerted the SEC’s Enforcement Division and the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (Autonomy is based in the U.K.).

Autonomy was a very high-profile acquisition for HP, meant to help the tech giant break into the data-analytics space. HP continues to use Autonomy’s core e-discovery and analytics technology, although an unnamed source within HP told Forbes’ Daniel Fisher that most of it is “smoke and mirrors.”

Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch, meanwhile, pushed back against HP’s filing in a posting on AutonomyAccounts.org, a Website he maintains “on behalf of the former management team of Autonomy.”

“Simply put, these allegations are false, and in the absence of further detail we cannot understand what HP believes to be the basis for them,” Lynch wrote. “We also do not understand why HP is raising these issues now given that Autonomy reported into the HP Finance team from the day the acquisition completed in October 2011, there was an extensive due diligence process and Autonomy was audited as a public company for many years.”

Lynch also claimed that HP and its advisors had access to “all Autonomy accounts and documents from October 2011 onwards, and raised no issues.” The posting continues with several bullet-points that allegedly support his case.

However the federal investigation shakes out, HP likely needs to stay in the Big Data and analytics space—some of its biggest rivals, including SAP and Oracle, are making significant headway with regard to their own technology offerings.


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