Hewlett-Packard has fired back at a former Autonomy executive who is attempting to block the settlement of a number of shareholder lawsuits filed over HP's disastrous acquisition of the infrastructure software vendor.
HP bought Autonomy in 2011 for more than US$10 billion, but later wrote off $8.8 billion of the purchase price after discovering what it called serious accounting irregularities on the part of Autonomy prior to the deal.
Ex-Autonomy Chief Financial Officer Sushovan Hussain filed a motion in June over the shareholder cases, arguing that a settlement would prevent the truth from being revealed, namely HP's "own destruction of Autonomy's success after the acquisition."
Hussain "was one of the chief architects of the massive fraud on HP that precipitated this litigation," HP said in a response to Hussain's motion on Monday. "The notion that he should be permitted to intervene and challenge the substance of a settlement designed to protect the interests of the company he defrauded is ludicrous."
Hussain knows HP will sue him in England where discovery rules are more limiting, HP added. He "also knows that prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating him, that HP is cooperating with those authorities and that, until he is charged, he has no access to the information that HP is providing to the authorities."
The former executive is wrapping himself "in a mantle of self-righteousness in an attempt to obtain discovery that he hopes will help him stay out of prison and defend the civil litigation he expects HP will file in the UK," the filing alleges.
Autonomy founder and CEO Mike Lynch, who was ousted from HP in 2012, has denied any wrongdoing, saying publicly that HP was aware of Autonomy's accounting practices before the acquisition and has conducted a smear campaign against him and others.
Veteran analyst Richard Holway of TechmarketView quotes Lynch as hitting back immediately, saying "HP has struck a corrupt and collusive settlement to try to bury the truth rather than face a court…thus buying off a bunch of lawyers so she [Meg Whitman] doesn’t have to answer charges of incompetence and misdirection in front of a judge and jury".
A spokesman for Lynch told Recode on Monday that HP's filing was "breathless ranting" and "the sort of personal smear we've come to expect."
An attorney for Hussain was equally dismissive. "Ask yourself why, if they are so concerned about fraud, HP has been scared to sue anywhere for three years," John Keker told Bloomberg.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is [email protected]