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US, UK probe HP claims of accounting mischief at Autonomy

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The US Department of Justice is investigating Hewlett Packard's allegations that British software company Autonomy cooked its books before it was bought up by HP.

Hewlett Packard claimed accounting irregularities and financial misrepresentation at Autonomy led to HP's $8.8bn loss in the fourth quarter of 2012. HP paid $11bn for the UK-based software service company in 2011. Hewlett Packard now believes it overpaid for Autonomy and claimed the false figures led to bad business projections also contributing to the heavy losses at HP.

HP confirmed the Department of Justice probe in its annual company report filed last week to US regulator the SEC. The tech titan said it had cooperated with investigators since 21 November. The UK's Serious Fraud Office and the US SEC are also examining the allegations against Autonomy.

HP's annual report lists ten separate legal actions launched by shareholders over the Q4 mega write down: three named Hewlett-Packard, two named former HP CEO Leo Apotheker and three cited Autonomy's founder Mike Lynch as the principal defendant.

Lynch denies any wrongdoing, refutes all the claims and has challenged HP to show any conclusive proof. He also set up a website AutonomyAccounts to publicise his side of the story. ®

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