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UK Regulators Investigate Autonomy’s Accounting Practices

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The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of the United Kingdom said it is conducting an investigation regarding the accounting practices of Autonomy before it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) for $11.1 billion in 2011.

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In a press statement, the FRC said it would check Autonomy’s financial reporting from January 1st, 2009 to December 30th, 2011 as part of its objective to provide high quality corporate governance and reporting to promote investment.

The FRC launched its investigation after Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) alleged that Autonomy conducted “accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures” in the takeover agreement in 2011. According to HP, some of the former executives of Autonomy inflated and misrepresented the financial performance of the British software maker before the acquisition. Mike Lynch, former CEO and founder of Autonomy denied HP’s allegations. He said that the computer manufacturer should be blamed for the decline of the value of the software company.

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) posted an $8.8 billion write down in its 4Q earnings report last year, which includes approximately $5 billion charge related to its Autonomy acquisition. The investors of HP filed a lawsuit against the computer manufacturer in connection with the losses incurred by the company in the transaction.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commissio (SEC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are conducting their own investigations on the finances of the Autonomy. HP provided information regarding Autonomy transaction and its cooperating with the probe of the three agencies.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the former management of Autonomy said they welcome the investigation of the FRC.  “We are fully confident in the financial reporting of the company and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate this to the FRC,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added, “As a member of the FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) the accounts of Autonomy have previously been reviewed by the FRC… and no actions or changes were recommended or required.”

A spokesperson from the FRC cited that it would take approximately one year for the council to implement disciplinary proceedings if it discovers wrongdoings, according to a report from the New York Times Dealbook. The first stage of the process could result in a penalty or suspension license to practice. The FRC did not provide further details regarding the investigation.

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