Arik Hesseldahl

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U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office Is Investigating HP’s Autonomy Allegations

sfoHewlett-Packard just filed its regular form 10-Q, or quarterly report, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and it contains some news.

In the filing, HP discloses that it has been told by the Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom that the SFO has opened an investigation into the allegations that HP has leveled at Autonomy, the British software company for which it paid about $11 billion in 2011, only to write down its value by $5.5 billion in 2012.

HP had previously said it had reported its findings to the SFO, but this constitutes the first official disclosure that an investigation by that agency is under way.

It further explains a report by the Daily Mail last week, saying that Mike Lynch, Autonomy’s founder and former CEO who is at the center of many of the accusations, has hired Reid Weingarten of Steptoe & Johnson as his defense lawyer. Weingarten is know for having represented filmmaker Roman Polanski and Enron executive Richard Causey.

It also makes the SFO the second regulatory body in that country to have Autonomy in its sights. Last month the U.K.’s Financial Reporting Council launched its own probe into the matter. The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating it since last fall.

Here’s what HP says about it:

Autonomy-Related Legal Matters
Investigations. 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. On February 6, 2013, representatives of the U.K. Serious Fraud Office advised HP that they had also opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. HP is cooperating with the three investigating agencies.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work