Watchdog files complaint against Autonomy auditors and executives

Move comes a month after software firm’s former CFO was convicted by US jury

Britain's accountancy watchdog has filed formal complaints against the auditors and two former finance executives of Autonomy, the software business that was sold to Hewlett-Packard (HP) for $11 billion in 2011.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said on Thursday the complaints against auditors Deloitte and the executives would now be handled by its tribunal, which can levy unlimited fines on individuals and institutions, and exclude individuals from the profession or from certain work until they show improvement.

The move comes a month after Autonomy’s former chief financial officer Sushovan Hussain was convicted by a US jury of wire fraud and other crimes related to claims that he inflated the firm’s value before its sale.

HP bought Autonomy to spearhead a shift into software, but the deal soured a year later when it wrote off three-quarters of Autonomy’s value, alleging it was deceived about Autonomy’s finances and prospects for growth. The two sides have been locked in an acrimonious battle ever since.

The FRC, which was investigating the numbers reported by Autonomy, said the conduct of auditors Deloitte, Deloitte partners Richard Knights and Nigel Mercer, former Autonomy finance chief Hussain, and former Autonomy vice-president of finance Stephen Chamberlain, had fallen significantly short of standards. – Reuters