Mike Lynch, the British software entrepreneur, has lost the latest round in a legal fight against his extradition to stand trial in the US on criminal fraud charges over the $11bn sale of his company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard.
Priti Patel, UK home secretary, will have to decide by Friday whether to approve Lynch’s extradition from Britain to the US.
The US has accused Lynch of manipulating Autonomy’s accounts, leading HP to pay an extra $5bn for the company when it bought it in 2011. He faces a US criminal trial where he is accused of 14 counts of conspiracy and fraud. A London court ruled last July that he should be extradited to face the charges in the US. Lynch denies wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, the High Court rejected an attempt by Lynch’s legal team to allow Patel more time to consider her decision on whether to approve the extradition. Additional time would potentially have allowed her to take into consideration an upcoming High Court ruling from Mr Justice Robert Hildyard.
Hildyard is due to deliver a judgment within weeks on a civil lawsuit brought by Hewlett Packard Enterprise against Lynch alleging fraud over the Autonomy deal. The High Court trial, which took place in 2019, covered the same allegations around the Autonomy sale and heard from some of the same witnesses who are expected to testify in the US trial.
Mr Justice Jonathan Swift on Wednesday rejected Lynch’s latest legal application and said Patel should have until Friday to make a decision on the extradition. Her decision is set to start the clock on an appeal by Lynch, which must then be filed within 14 days. The extradition appeals process is lengthy with some cases. One lodged by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took years.
Legal experts have said that Lynch’s case has wider significance for British business executives, setting an important precedent for those accused of criminal wrongdoing. The UK-US extradition treaty signed in 2003 has long been criticised by British MPs for being weighted in favour of the US.
Thomas Garner, a partner and extradition lawyer at law firm Fladgate, said a favourable decision in the High Court civil trial could provide a basis for Lynch in any extradition appeal.
He added: “Still, a negative decision in the civil trial would, of course, be very damaging . . . lawyers on both sides will pore over the civil judgment for any findings which help their cause. Whatever the outcome, it seems likely that Mr Lynch’s case will rumble on for some time yet.”
A spokesperson for Lynch declined to comment. The Home Office said: “the Home Secretary continues to give full consideration to the issues raised in this case.”