The British government has agreed to extradite Irish-born Mike Lynch to the United States to face criminal fraud charges, hours after a London judge ruled the tech mogul was dishonest in the $11 billion (€9.9 billion) sale of his company.
Home Secretary Priti Patel’s extradition decision does not mean that Mr Lynch will be getting on a plane any time soon. He can appeal the order and a separate court decision authorizing his extradition.
The decision is the latest in more than a decade of ups and downs in the wake of Lynch’s sale of self-rule in 2011 to Hewlett Packard. A year after the sale, hardware giant Silicon Valley slashed the deal value by $8.8 billion.
In 2015, HP filed a civil lawsuit against Lynch and the company’s vice president of finance, seeking $5 billion in damages. Last Friday, the British judge in that case said HP was « urged » to buy the company.
The judge said Lynch, who earned more than $800 million from the deal, was « well aware » of fraudulent strategies to groom the British-based software company prior to the purchase.
In 2018, the US government charged Lynch and the chief financial officer with 13 felony counts of electronic fraud and one count of conspiracy, alleging that they artificially inflated sales numbers in an attempt to meet or exceed analysts’ quarterly expectations, keep the stock price high and achieve success. The company looks attractive to the buyer.
Lynch’s lawyer, Chris Morphilo, said he would appeal to the High Court in London.
« Dr. Lynch vigorously denies the charges against him in the United States and will continue to fight for his innocence, » Morfilo said in an emailed statement. He is a British citizen who is running a British company in Britain subject to British laws and rules, and this is where the matter has to be resolved. This isn’t the end of the battle – it’s a far cry from that. »
The British government’s decision on one of the country’s most prominent tech entrepreneurs – a one-time adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron – has been seen as a test of an extradition treaty between the UK and the US, which critics describe as deeply asymmetric. The United States rejected one extradition request from the United Kingdom, while the United Kingdom rejected 24 requests.
Last month, a judge allowed Julian Assange to be extradited to the United States to face charges, a ruling under appeal.
« Under the 2003 Extradition Act, the Secretary of State is required to sign an extradition order if there are no grounds preventing the order from being issued, » the Home Office said in an emailed statement.
Mr Lynch has been fighting extradition in UK courts. He lost his first attempt when a judge said in July that he should be sent to the United States. He insisted from the start that the case would not be heard in the United States, stressing that none of the alleged misconduct occurred abroad.
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