On Tuesday 9 February 2021, the extradition hearing for former Autonomy CEO, Mike Lynch, got underway at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Mr Lynch faces charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud in the US in connection with the sale of his company Autonomy to Hewlett Packard (‘HP’) in 2011.
Mr Lynch’s legal team argue that his extradition should be barred by reason of the ‘forum bar’, which gives UK courts the power to bar extradition in the interests of justice if, broadly speaking, they conclude that the UK is the more appropriate forum for prosecution. Counsel for Mr Lynch criticised the US approach in this case describing it as that of an “overweening international police force” and said that any prosecution should take place in the UK. The US contests the forum arguments on the grounds that HP is a US company and the US was the location of the intended victims of the fraud.
In 2015, the SFO halted an investigation into the sale of Autonomy without bringing any charges on the basis that the US investigation took precedence. However, Mr Lynch’s legal team were keen to point out that if extradition was barred, the court would not be handing Mr Lynch a “get out of jail free card”. Although the court could not compel the SFO to re-start its investigation, the SFO has indicated that it will do so if extradition is blocked.
Mr Lynch is currently awaiting the outcome of a civil fraud suit brought by HP in the High Court in connection with the sale.