Mike Lynch, the billionaire founder of the program society Autonomy, may be extradited to the United States, a London court ruled Thursday in a case that is seen as major proof of the will of British courts to blocking the removal of business leaders to the US.
Lynch, one of the UK’s best-known tech entrepreneurs, has been charged in the United States with 17 counts of conspiracy and fraud in connection with Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of Autonomy for $ 11 billion in 2011. .
Lynch is accused of allegedly manipulating Autonomy accounts, leading HP to pay an additional $ 5 billion for the company. He denies the wrongs.
His extradition case was heard earlier this year, but hearings have been postponed pending the outcome of a ruling on a High Court. civil fraud lawsuit brought against Lynch by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for sale of Autonomy.
But after hearing that the Supreme Court ruling had not been overturned for several months, District Judge Michael Snow told Lynch Thursday that he rejected his case and did not believe the extradition was an abuse. of process. He gave Lynch 14 days to appeal the decision.
Lynch’s argument against extradition to the United States was based on a defense known as the “forum bar,” which allows courts to block extradition if a large portion of the alleged criminal activity it is made in the United Kingdom.
His lawyer Alex Bailin QC had argued in Westminster Magistrates ’Court earlier this year that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office had reserved his right to prosecute Lynch in the UK if his extradition was blocked. . The SFO abandoned its probe in 2015 saying it had ceded part of its investigation to the United States.
The U.S. government argued that Lynch should be prosecuted in the United States because “America was the site of the intended victims of the fraud” and HP’s shares were primarily based in the United States.
The case has a wider significance for British business leaders, setting an important precedent for those accused of criminal misconduct. Bailin said at the extradition hearing earlier this year that business leaders should be “held accountable here” because “the United States is not the global marshal of the corporate world.”
The UK-US extradition treaty signed with the United States in 2003 has long been criticized by lawmakers for being weighed in favor of the United States and being used to target suspected white-collar suspects and terrorists.
District Judge Michael Snow, who heard the case in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, will not decide Lynch’s guilt or the innocence of the prosecution, but only if the case meets the legal criteria for extradition.
Despite the decision, extradition can lead to a lengthy appeal process. The losing party may appeal to the Supreme Court and to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.