Autonomy to be probed by UK accounts watchdog

The UK's Financial Reporting Council is to investigate Autonomy's accounts leading up to the HP acquisition, as Mike Lynch raises $1bn for new fund.

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Information management software vendor Autonomys reporting practices is under investigation
Information management software vendor Autonomy's reporting practices is under investigation

The UK's Financial Reporting Council has launched an investigation into information management software vendor Autonomy's reporting practices in advance of its acquisition by Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

The FRC has a remit to investigate cases that raise questions about a company's reporting practices. It cannot bring criminal charges against a person or organisation but it can issue fines with no limit.

The investigation follows a brief consultation with accountancy membership body the ICAEW. The trade group would not comment on Autonomy's specific case, but said that "a member shall be liable to disciplinary action if he commits any act or default likely to bring discredit on himself, the [ICAEW] or the profession of accountancy.“

When Hewlett-Packard accused Autonomy of misleading account that had inflated the apparent worth of the company before its $11.2 billion acquisition, it called on both the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to investigate.

The SFO has yet to comment on whether or not it is investigating Autonomy.

Apparently unbowed by the accusations against him and his fellow former Autonomy executives, Dr Mike Lynch has  raised £1 billion for his Invoke Capital investment fund, according to a report lasy week from the Daily Telegraph.

Invoke will invest in small businesses and larger technology infrastructure providers, it has been reported. It had already owns a stake in Featurespace, a risk analysis software vendor co-founded by William Fitzgerald, Lynch's PhD supervisor at Cambridge University. Like Autonomy's IDOL search platforms, Featurespace's technology is based on Bayesian probabilistic inference.

Lynch has strongly denied all investigations against him.