Ex-Autonomy CFO Headed to U.S. to Face Trial Over HP Dealby
Sushovan Hussain’s lawyer told judge he’s eager to fight case
He’s charged with scheming to inflate $11 billion deal in 2011
Former Autonomy Corp. Chief Financial Officer Sushovan Hussain is headed to the U.S. to face charges he schemed to inflate the price of Autonomy’s $11 billion takeover by Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2011.
Hussain’s lawyer, John Keker, told a federal judge his client is eager to go to trial and will travel from England for an arraignment set for Jan. 12 in San Francisco.
Hussain was charged last month, five years after Hewlett-Packard admitted that its acquisition of Autonomy was a bust. He and Autonomy co-founder Michael Lynch also face a lawsuit by Hewlett-Packard in a London court seeking $5.1 billion over allegations they made false claims about Autonomy’s performance and financial condition to boost the company’s value.
Keker previously said Hussain was innocent of wrongdoing and that it was a “shame" the U.S. Justice Department was doing Hewlett-Packard’s bidding by charging him. Both Keker and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco declined to comment Tuesday on their discussions and on whether Hussain has been asked to testify against Lynch, who wasn’t charged in the indictment.
Chief financial officers are frequently targeted in corporate fraud cases because they sign the paperwork, said William Portanova, a former federal prosecutor.
“In plenty of cases, no matter what happened in the boardroom, it’s the CFO who’s name is on the financial reports and therefore the CFO who bears the brunt of the prosecution," Portanova said.
While it would be a leap at this point in the case to say prosecutors are going after Lynch, “it’s clear that the indictment envisions more people being involved,” he said. The charging papers refer to conference and video calls, and it “would be unusual for the CFO to be the only participant in those calls,” he said.
Keker told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer he met with prosecutors after the indictment was filed Nov. 10 to discuss Hussain’s “desire to come from his home in England to face these charges and have a trial,” the lawyer, according to a transcript of a Nov. 18 hearing.
Through Keker, Hussain agreed to post bail of $1,000. He’s permitted to stay in England and travel so long as he doesn’t visit a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S., according to the court filing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Reeves told Breyer that Hussain owns property in “other countries" and said there’s a risk he would flee if he lost at trial.
Breyer dismissed the concerns, saying he would revisit the matter at trial if warranted. In March 2015 the judge approved Hewlett-Packard’s settlement with shareholders over the botched Autonomy acquisition that ended in the company writing off $8.8 billion.
Breyer, without offering more detail, said: “I’m quite certain this case will go to trial.”
"So are we, your honor," Keker said.
This case is U.S. v. Hussain, 16-cr-00462, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).