Ex-Autonomy director accused by US prosecutors of elaborate financial fraud

Justice department files 12-page criminal indictment against Sushovan Hussain, accusing him of deception in $11bn Hewlett-Packard takeover.

The former finance director of British software group Autonomy has been accused by US prosecutors of “intimidating, pressuring, and paying off” individuals who questioned his company’s financial practices.

In a 12-page indictment, filed on Thursday and seen by the Guardian, Sushovan Hussain is alleged to have masterminded an elaborate financial fraud designed to deceive investors, analysts, regulators, and auditors.

Following a four-year investigation by the US Department of Justice, the British company director is facing a criminal trial in San Francisco. If found guilty, he could serve up to 20 years in prison and a be forced to pay multimillion-dollar penalty.

Hewlett-Packard (HP), the Californian computing group, paid $11bn (£8.7bn) to buy Autonomy five years ago, the biggest ever takeover of a European technology group. Mike Lynch, the Autonomy founder, collected over £517m for his shares, while Hussain received £10m. HP now claims it overpaid because Autonomy’s directors exaggerated the company’s value.

Lynch, who holds an OBE and advises the British government as a member of its council for science and technology, has not been charged. Sources said this weekend that prosecutors may be hoping to pressure Hussain into turning against his former boss and providing evidence with which to prosecute Lynch. However, an alternative source familiar with the legal process questioned this hypothesis, saying the statute of limitation would now have passed and action against Lynch could no longer be taken.

The author: Margareta STROOT

Margareta Stroot, a multi-talented individual, calls Brussels her home. With a unique blend of careers, she balances her time as a part-time journalist and a part-time real estate agent. Margareta's deep-rooted knowledge of the city of Brussels, where she resides, has proven invaluable in both of her roles. Her journalism captures the essence of the city, while her real estate expertise helps others find their perfect homes in the vibrant Belgian capital.

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