HP had to write down the value of Automony this year, which was accused of over-valuing itself by about $5 billion. HP wrote a check for nearly $10 billion for the outfit.
Now the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has joined the US Department of Justice and the UK accounting regulator in questioning Automony.
HP said that it had provided information to the UK Serious Fraud Office, the US 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.
A spokesperson for the SFO confirmed that “allegations have been made to the SFO about the circumstances of the sale in 2011 of Autonomy to Hewlett Packard”.
It is the first time that anyone has confirmed that the Serious Fraud Office is involved, although it has been hinted at before.
However, the SFO has pointed out that just opening a criminal investigation does not mean that anyone is guilty of a crime or that it thinks that one has been committed.
Ironically the SFO has had to deal with reports that it uses an Autonomy software product, Introspect, which is a document management tool.
Apparently it is working to make sure that there is no conflict of interest. This might mean that it has to remove the software from its own servers before it starts investigating.
However, the confirmation that the SFO is on board will help HP as it holds its annual meeting in California. HP has been trying to claim that it was duped by criminal activity by Autonomy, and its CEO Mike Lynch rather than just being incompetent.
Autonomy’s Mike Lynch has insisted he did nothing illegal.