Mike Lynch, the alleged architect of Britain’s biggest corporate fraud, has suffered a crucial defeat in his fight against extradition to America as he seeks to avoid potentially decades in prison.
The Autonomy founder, who is wanted on charges of fraud over the sale of the software company, moved a step closer to trial on US soil after District Judge Michael Snow said it was “in the interests of justice” to extradite him. Mr Lynch denies all charges.
Former ministers attacked the decision, saying any allegations against the businessman Lynch should be tested in the UK and that the judge has ignored upcoming evidence.
Lawyers for Mr Lynch – once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bill Gates – said they expect to appeal the decision if it is approved by the Home Secretary.
The 56-year-old faces 17 counts of fraud in the US over the $11.7bn (£8.5bn) sale of Autonomy, the FTSE 100 company he founded, to HP in 2011.
HP wrote down almost all of Autonomy’s value a year after the deal, claiming that former executives at the company had inflated its revenues and profits.
David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said it was an “outrage” that Mr Lynch should be tried in a US court.
“This is all about the purchase of our largest software company, Autonomy, from the London Stock Exchange, and a voluntary purchase by Hewlett Packard. That all happened in Britain,” he said.
“The implication of that for a business point of view, is that every single purchase or contract by an American company, will be adjudicated by the American court. That’s really serious post-Brexit.”
Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary, said: “This is a bizarre, incomprehensible decision that means none of us are safe from the reach of American prosecutors. The Home Secretary should reflect very carefully indeed before agreeing that this extradition can go ahead.”