The billionaire software tycoon, Mike Lynch, has been extradited to the US to face criminal fraud charges weeks after losing a long-running legal battle against the move.
Lynch – often referred to as the British Bill Gates – has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Hewlett-Packard (HP) since 2011 over the sale of software firm Autonomy to HP for $11 billion.
HP alleges that Lynch and other Autonomy executives deliberately inflated the company’s financial performance prior to the sale, leading HP to overpay for the acquisition. Lynch denies any wrongdoing.
Lynch had been fighting against extradition to the US, where HP has also filed a civil lawsuit against him and other former Autonomy executives.
Lynch is something of a fairy-tale figure in the rarefied ranks of celebrity entrepreneurs.
He started from humble beginnings. Born in Essex in 1965, his mother was a nurse, and his father a fireman.
Lynch excelled at school and at 11 won a scholarship to Bancroft’s School in Woodford.
He went on to study natural sciences at Cambridge, earning a PhD in 1991.
He was the founding investor of the British cybersecurity firm Darktrace and is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of “meaning-based computing,” which uses artificial intelligence to understand the meaning and context of information in natural language.
Awards and honours have poured in, including an OBE in 2006 for services to enterprise and a fellowship of the Royal Society in 2012.
The HP charges precipitated a steep fall from grace.
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Lynch could face a maximum prison sentence of 25 years if found guilty. He is thought to be considering a last-ditch appeal to the European court of human rights to reverse the extradition. But legal experts believe his chances of success are low.
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