UK tech entrepreneur freed on £10m bail in US extradition fight

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British tech entrepreneur Dr Mike Lynch has been freed on bail as he fights extradition to the US on fraud charges.

Dr Lynch sold his software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2011 for $11.1bn (£8.5bn).

He faces 17 criminal charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud.

The US case is based on allegations that the value of Autonomy, which specialised in data software, was overstated.

A year after the acquisition was completed, HP announced a $8.8bn writedown in Autonomy’s value, claiming to have uncovered “serious accounting improprieties”.

Dr Lynch denies all the allegations and argues that any loss was down to differences in UK accounting practices to those in America and mismanagement by HP.

The criminal proceedings are separate to a civil case at the High Court in which HP is seeking $5bn (£3.8bn) in damages from the businessman.

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The Royal Coat of Arms and signage is pictured on an external wall of The Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand in central London on August 21, 2016.
The Royal Court of Justice building accommodates both the Court of Appeal and the High Court. Often referred to as The Law Courts, the building was designed by architect George Edmund Street in Gothic style and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882 / AFP / NIKLAS HALLE'N
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The criminal case is separate to a civil action brought by HP at the High Court

He is counter-suing the US company.

Dr Lynch completed a formality of the US extradition request when he submitted himself for arrest ahead of a London court appearance.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot, sitting at Westminster Magistrates Court, granted him bail on the condition a security of £10m be placed with the court ahead of a full hearing later this year.

She also barred him from applying for any international documents, leaving England and Wales, or entering any
international airport, ferry port or train terminal.

Alex Bailin QC, for Dr Lynch, said his client had not left the country since learning of the extradition bid more than a year ago and has handed over his British and Irish passports.

He told the court: “This is UK-based conduct, a UK-based plc culminating in a UK civil trial.

“This matter is unquestionably based in the UK – the forum bar (of the Extradition Act 2003) is there to provide real protection.”

In a separate statement, Dr Lynch’s lawyers Chris Morvillo and Reid Weingarten said the allegations had previously been investigated by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and no action was taken.

“The US Department of Justice should not have commenced extradition proceedings prior to the judgment of the English High Court,” they said.

“This case has wider implications for British business. The US claims concern alleged conduct in the UK.

“Dr Lynch is a British citizen who ran a British company listed on the London Stock Exchange, governed by English law and UK accounting standards.

“This extradition request reflects yet another example of the Department of Justice’s attempts to exert extraterritorial jurisdiction over non-US conduct.

“The forum bar in the UK Extradition Act was enacted by the UK Parliament to protect British citizens from such a scenario.

“Dr Lynch vigorously rejects all the allegations against him and is determined to continue to fight these charges.”

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