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back to article UK Serious Fraud Office queues up to probe HP's Autonomy allegations

The UK Serious Fraud Office has told The Register it is investigating allegations of accounting irregularities at Autonomy, the Brit software house gobbled by HP for $10.7bn in 2011. In November last year, Hewlett-Packard claimed Autonomy "outright misrepresented" its value in the months before its acquisition, causing HP to …

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Surely...

Something is worth what you're willing to pay for it?

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Re: Surely...

Only if the seller is being truthful, otherwise clocking second hand motors (moving the odometer backwards in a car for non-brits) would be perfectly ok.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely...

Or as the saying goes "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it".

Hopefully this will put people off buying up UK firms, this is already one of the most globalised countries in the world. Mandelson thought selling off everything would raise the level of wages for all but it didn't.

As a result we have very little control over our destiny.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: if you have to ask the price you can't afford it

roughly translates as "this is shit but you're just showing off how much money you have and will buy anything if we pretend it's exclusive and charge a lot of money."

And as for "Mandelson thought selling off everything would raise the level of wages for all". Did he really? I would say he didn't give two shits for anyone else and was just looking after number one....

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Anonymous Coward

Conflict of interest ?

Imagine if they had to investigate Microsoft. Would they they switch to Macs or Linux ?

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WTF?

Re: Conflict of interest ?

Good point. Also, if they decide there *is* a conflict of interest, who investigates the potential fraud? No-one? Seems to me that a good way of getting away with serious fraud would be making sure you sell something to the Serious Fraud Office!

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M7S
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Not taking sides but if, IF

it turns out that the HP claims are utter bollox as the former management assert, then leaving aside any defamation claims they might have, do our investigators get their costs back from HP? It's our tax pounds after all.

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Re: Not taking sides but if, IF

Unfortunately, the SFO are duty bound to investigate any formal complaint that is made. Just what 'investigate' amounts to depends on the circumstances. It could be one guy on the shitter skimming over (with his eyes) the transaciton documentation.

I suspect the whole investigation is politically motivated by some legal guy in the US who just wants to get into Peggy Witman's pants - or closer to them (like this guy: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/7072866/inside-story-staffer-tells-of-chair-sniffing-hell/)

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Facepalm

Re: Not taking sides but if, IF

"the SFO are duty bound to investigate any formal complaint that is made."

Not really, they can call the FSA and ask for a dirty opinion and tell HP to piss off beyond that. Also isn't much stopping the government taking them to court on behalf of the taxpayer either in the end.

Autonomy's profits before the purchase are a matter of public record and weren't very high. If HP failed to do due diligence or simply care they should look to recovering the money from the CEO at the time.

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Terminator

Re: Not taking sides but if, IF

Also not for nothing but HP's due diligence should have spotted everything they're alleging anyway. Can't figure out what it is HP are trying to achieve with the allegations they're making.

Stave off the inevitable board firings for a little while longer?

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Anonymous Coward

Shouldn't they be doing a stupidity investigation against HP?

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The only company in Britian

That actually made a profit (unlike Microsoft, Google, Starbucks, Amazon, Rolls Royce etc) and the SFO investigate?

Well paying tax is obviosly suspicous

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Autonomy and the BBC

This is the same company that spent six years and £8 million of license fee payers money to create software for the BBC Monitoring Service, which never actually materialised. They sound like a totally honest and top notch company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Autonomy and the BBC

Do you even know what Autonomy do?

They are specialists in producing software to automate tasks that are normally difficult for computers to do. Hence the name "autonomy".

I can only imagine the BBC wanted something almost impossible to do. Such things will fail at times.

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FAIL

Once again...

...it was common knowledge that Autonomy wasn't quite right before HP bought Autonomy. The following blogger said "I could tell the accounts were not kosher from an office in Sydney."

http://brontecapital.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/hewlett-packard-and-autonomy-notes-from.html

If it is the case that Autonomy was a fraud (as opposed to merely having 'ambitious' accounts), it is damning that this fraud was in plain sight for so long. It is also absurd that HP wasted so much money on something that everyone with a clue knew was dodgy.

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FAIL

Re: Once again...

Due diligence. Buyer beware and all that.

No point complaining after the even it just makes it obvious what a lazy dupe you are. Shame as HP used to be a good company.

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Meh

Re: Once again...

2012/11 smells of hindsight. An earlier reference might have more credibility.

HP has a track record of inexplicable acquisitions. At least Autonomy did something interesting, rather than being pure Hot Air and fleece-the-taxpayer like EDS.

Choice comments at http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/08/18/hp_spinoff_of_pc_business/

(I googled "two plus metoo", being my phrase for HP trying to ape IBM and Oracle).

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FAIL

What a meaningless, self-serving statement

"HP has provided information to the UK Serious Fraud Office, the US Department of Justice and the SEC related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP's acquisition of Autonomy."

An obvious reflection of the incompetence of the failed politician running the show. She is just trying to protect her interests, like employment.

If I had "provided information" of an alleged wrong doing, it is meaningless unless established by facts.

Californians doesn't know how lucky they were!

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Thumb Up

Re: Californians doesn't know how lucky they were!

You paint a very vivid picture Richy, i know exactly what you mean!

(one posting point if you know where that comes from!)

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Facepalm

due dilligence?

If the allegations are true, you do have to wonder how HP's accountants failed to spot an 8bn hole in the accounts at the time the deal was made. It's not like it's a rounding error!

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Question for the lawyers in the audience

So if they do find out that Autonomy really did grossly misrepresent themselves - not that I'm saying they necessarily will - what would the legal remedy/punishment be? Given that HP own Autonomy now, surely they can't order HP to give itself $8.8bn of its own money.

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Doesn't add up

I understood that Autonomy was being shopped around at around the $6 bn mark but Oracle refused to bite then in came HP with an offer of $10.7 bn. HP are now claiming a write down of $8.8 bn based on fraud. Given that HP could have got the company for $6 bn shouldn't the fraud figure be at most $4.1 bn?

HP made a huge mistake in their valuation of Autonomy, way over and above what it was worth. The amount paid surprised many at the time. The Streisand effect around this is just making HP look more of a laughing stock than they were already.

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone asked if the SFO have any HP printers?

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Just curious....

.. is there a "Not So Serious Fraud Office"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just curious....

The Jokerz?

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Anonymous Coward

and...

Who completed the due diligence on the accounts and operational model?

I guess (*know) it was outsourced, so their lays the blame. (Part 1).

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