HP was aware of Autonomy accounting practices, suggests new evidence

By Peter Gothard
18 Feb 2014 View Comments
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HP senior executives were aware of controversial Autonomy accounting practices months before an whisteblower flagged them, prompting HP to write down the value of Autonomy after it had acquired the firm.

According to email records cited by the Financial Times today, Autonomy's auditors, Deloitte, signed off some of the deals that are at the heart of allegations that Autonomy was overvalued.

Further reading

Deloitte categorically denies any knowledge of "accounting improprieties or misinterpretations in Autonomy's financial statements".

Ex-CEO of Autonomy, Mike Lynch, has said that HP CEO Meg Whitman's claims of "active concealment" could not hold, as Autonomy was always "open and transparent" with its auditors.

Autonomy's practice of selling hardware to clients at a loss had been documented by auditors and a report was provided to HP after it bought the British software maker, the FT said.

HP has already admitted it was aware of some of the hardware transactions at an earlier stage than it had publicly admitted, but says it knew nothing of the "accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures" until the whistle was blown.

The FT also alleges it has seen records of conversations between HP and Autonomy about how Autonomy should deal with sales of software to resellers - potential proof that HP was suggesting changes to Autonomy's practices in order to more easily fit US accounting legislation.

HP acquired Autonomy in 2011 for $11.1bn, but was forced to take a writedown of $8bn on this purchase only a year later. HP has since claimed it was misled as to the company's value by Autonomy's accounting process.

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