U.S. jury convicts former Autonomy executive of fraud over HP deal

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Monday convicted the former chief financial officer of British software company Autonomy of wire fraud and other crimes related to claims by the government that he inflated the firm’s value before its sale to Hewlett Packard, a Justice Department spokesman said.

Federal prosecutors brought criminal conspiracy and wire fraud charges against Sushovan Hussain in 2016, alleging that beginning in 2009, he and others sought to deceive Autonomy’s investors and HP about the company’s financial condition and prospects for growth.

The scheme had several objectives, an indictment said, including to artificially increase and maintain Autonomy’s share price to make the company attractive to potential buyers like HP, which agreed to buy it in 2011 for $11 billion.

Hussain pleaded not guilty, and the trial in San Francisco federal court lasted several weeks.

In a statement, Hussain’s attorney John Keker said defense evidence was excluded from the trial that would have shown HP was not misled at all and that they will appeal the verdict.

“Mr. Hussain defrauded no one and acted at all times with the highest standards of honesty, integrity and competence,” Keker said, adding: “It is a shame that the United States Department of Justice lent its support to HP’s campaign to blame others for its own catastrophic failings.”

The Autonomy deal was supposed to form the central part of HP’s move into software but instead led the U.S. company a year later to write-off three-quarters of Autonomy’s value.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co issued a statement on Monday saying it was pleased with the verdict. Hussain misled the market, the company said.

“That Mr. Hussain attempted to depict the fraud as nothing more than a misunderstanding of international accounting rules was, and still remains, patently ridiculous,” the company said.

HPE last year completed the spin-off of much of its software business, closing the door on the Autonomy deal. HPE was formed when the company once known as Hewlett-Packard split into HPE and HP Inc in November 2015.

Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker