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Former ministers speak out on Mike Lynch extradition
As Mike Lynch, founder and former CEO of Autonomy, awaits his US extradition hearing, several former Tory MPs have expressed their concerns
Mike Lynch, the former CEO of Autonomy, should not face extradition to the US, a number of former MPs have said in a letter sent to The Times newspaper.
Former Tory ministers Andrew Mitchell, David Davis, Lord Maude of Horsham and Lord Deben, along with former Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable, wrote a letter to the newspaper describing how the extradition would be akin to the UK surrendering its sovereignty.
Last year, Davis described the 2003 UK-US extradition treaty as “truly dreadful”. He said it was asymmetric, sometimes ineffective and often unfair on British citizens. “Countless examples down the years have shown that, from the NatWest three to Christopher Tappin, from Gary McKinnon to Anne Sacoolas – the person charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of Harry Dunn,” he said in January 2020. “We now risk yet another serious miscarriage of justice with the US extradition request for Dr Mike Lynch.”
Davis described the case as important because it characterised the way the US judicial system operates to favour American business. He said: “The United States has a tradition of using its broad extradition treaties to cast a wide legal net around the world. As with Mike Lynch, many of these cases are only tenuously linked to the United States.”
In February 2020, Lynch submitted himself for arrest, a formality required as part of the extradition process initiated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
His lawyers, Christopher Morvillo and Reid Weingarten, said the case had wider implications for British business. “The US claims concern alleged conduct in the UK,” Morvillo and Weingarten wrote. “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 DoJ’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.”
In September, Sky News reported that investment bank Goldman Sachs had decided against taking a role in the initial public offering (IPO) of UK artificial intelligence cyber specialist Darktrace because Lynch’s venture capital fund, Invoke Capital, was a major backer.
Its decision may well have been influenced by the decision in November 2018 taken by the US DoJ to charge Lynch with engaging in a scheme to defraud purchasers and sellers of Autonomy securities.
The DoJ accused Lynch of raising the value of Autonomy in the build-up to its sale to HP in August 2011 for about $11bn. The indictment alleges that Lynch and co-defendant Stephen Chamberlain, Autonomy’s former vice-president for finance, caused Autonomy to make materially false and misleading statements directly to HP regarding Autonomy’s financial condition, performance and business during the negotiations between HP and Autonomy leading up to the acquisition announcement.
In 2019, the DoJ formally requested that Lynch be extradited to the US. The extradition hearing is set to begin on 8 February.
Read more about HP/Autonomy
2011: Hewlett-Packard (HP) completed its acquisition of software company Autonomy for £7.1bn. HP said the acquisition positioned it as a leader in the large and growing enterprise information management space.
2012: HP blames Autonomy for misleading the firm before acquisition and refers former management to the Serious Fraud Office.
2013: HP CEO Meg Whitman defended her company’s attack on the former management of Autonomy, which it acquired in 2011 for $11.7bn.
2014: HP was close to settling the legal dispute filed by shareholders over the acquisition of British software company Autonomy.
2014: HP sued Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, Sushovan Hussain, for his part in the 2011 acquisition of the UK software company.
2015: The UK Serious Fraud Office dropped its investigation into the sale of Autonomy to HP, but the US continued its investigation.
2018: Autonomy’s founder, Mike Lynch, and former vice-president of finance, Stephen Chamberlain, charged with fraud in the US.
2019: The UK’s biggest fraud case commences, with the former CEO of Autonomy, Mike Lynch, attempting to clear his name.