HP says Autonomy revenue was wrong by 38%

Ex-Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch responds by blasting lawsuit as "desperate search" for a scapegoat

A fresh war of words has erupted between HP and the former executives of Autonomy that it's suing for $5.1 billion, after details of the lawsuit were revealed in a court filing.

Hewlett-Packard last month launched a legal battle against Michael Lynch and Sushovan Hussain, the former CEO and CFO respectively of British software maker Autonomy.

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HP bought Autonomy in 2011, but was forced to write down 5.6 billion of the 7 billion purchase, and accuses Lynch and Hussain of cooking the books to increase the British firm's apparent value.

In documents released yesterday, HP claimed it was tricked into paying 3.2 billion ($5.1 billion) more than it should have for Autonomy the same amount it wants repaid in the lawsuit it filed in England.

Specifically, the filing alleges that Autonomy sold other vendors' hardware at a loss, recognising the costs as "marketing" instead of "goods purchased".

HP also claimed revenues were falsely bumped up three years running by 24.7 per cent in 2009, by 38 per cent in 2010 and by 36 per cent in 2011.

Lynch responded by blasting HP, saying the claims are "one long disagreement over accounting treatments, and have nothing to do with fraud".

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He added: "After three years of Meg Whitman's stonewalling, is this it? HP's claim is finally laid bare for what it is a desperate search for a scapegoat for its own errors and incompetence.

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"She now admits that hardware sales were correctly recorded as revenue and that HP was fully aware of this when they valued the company at $11 billion," he said. 

Lynch added that there was no missing money from Autonomy's accounts.

The latest news comes after the Serious Fraud Office dropped an investigation into Lynch and Hussain back in January, saying there wasn't enough evidence for a successful prosecution. It passed on its findings to US authorities.

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