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Ex-Autonomy CFO sentenced in U.S. to 5 years prison over Hewlett-Packard fraud

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The former chief financial officer of British software company Autonomy was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison, after a U.S. jury found him guilty of fraud over the $11.1 billion sale of Autonomy in 2011 to Hewlett-Packard.

Sushovan Hussain, 55, was also fined $4 million and ordered to forfeit $6.1 million by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco. The defendant plans to appeal.

Hussain and former Autonomy Chief Executive Mike Lynch are also defendants in a $5 billion civil fraud trial in London's High Court, where Hewlett-Packard claimed they caused it to overpay for Autonomy by fraudulently inflating its value.

That trial began in March and is expected to last several months.

Lawyers for Hussain were not immediately available for comment. The office of U.S. Attorney David Anderson in San Francisco had no immediate comment.

U.S. prosecutors accused Hussain, who moved to England at age 7 from his native Bangladesh, of using backdated contracts and other forms of accounting fraud to inflate Autonomy's revenue, in an effort to attract potential buyers.

Hussain, who is married and has two daughters, was convicted in April 2018 on 16 wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy counts.

Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term, while Hussain sought no more than one year and one day. Both sides agreed on the fine.

Hussain is scheduled to report to prison on June 15.

Autonomy was the linchpin of former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Leo Apotheker's strategy to integrate his company's computer and printer businesses with higher-margin software.

His plan backfired, and Hewlett-Packard took an $8.8 billion writedown a year after buying Autonomy, while accusing Lynch of accounting fraud.

Lynch, who founded Autonomy, was once seen as Britain's answer to Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates.

Hewlett-Packard split in 2015 into HP Inc and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. The latter spun off much of its software business in 2017.

U.S. prosecutors have also criminally charged Lynch and former Autonomy vice president of finance Stephen Chamberlain over the Hewlett-Packard acquisition.

Lynch, through his lawyers, has denied criminal wrongdoing, and blamed the acquisition's failure on Hewlett-Packard. Chamberlain has pleaded not guilty.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Grant McCool and Phil Berlowitz)