Analyst shared Autonomy fraud allegations with British authorities before sale to HP

Papers were passed to him by anonymous source
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Alan Pelz-Sharpe, who is currently an analyst with 451 Research, told FierceContentManagement this week that prior to Autonomy's sale to HP, he shared allegations of fraud at the company with the British Serious Fraud Office. The allegations were in papers that had been passed to him anonymously.

According to Pelz-Sharpe, who has been covering Autonomy as an analyst since 1999, he reviewed the papers and then passed them on to authorities. "I was passed documents prior to the HP (NYSE: HPQ) acquisition that alleged there had been fraud at Autonomy and claimed to provide details on some of these activities. It was sent to me anonymously and I frankly didn't know what to do with it--nor did I know whether the information the documents contained were correct, but I had to assume they could be. I passed the information on as there was nothing I could personally do with it. "

He says the timing was a week or two before the sale in August 2011.

Pelz-Sharpe says the allegations in the papers were similar to what HP has been charging recently about Autonomy accounting practices, but he stressed the papers were much more general than what HP has alleged. "The content of the papers was accounting related and do seem to align with HP's allegations. Though to be clear, what was passed to me was anecdotal and broad in nature, whereas HP has employed very detailed forensic analysis and worked directly with Autonomy staff and management, so I don't know if they relate to the same allegations or if they are just similar in nature."

A spokesperson for the Serious Fraud Office would neither confirm nor deny that they received papers from Pelz-Sharpe.

It's worth noting that as we've reported here, Autonomy's former CEO, Mike Lynch, has issued several public statements firmly denying any wrong-doing at Autonomy using the AutonomyAccounts.org blog as a platform to defend himself and his company.

In an article last week on eWeek, HP responded to questions about the allegations with a statement saying in part, "As we have said previously, the majority of this impairment charge, more than $5 billion, is linked to serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations discovered by HP's internal investigation into Autonomy's practices prior to and in connection with the acquisition."

While the papers Pelz-Sharpe says he received and passed on to British authorities don't change the case or the claims of both parties, it is certainly an interesting addition to what continues to be an ongoing content management drama.

Pelz-Sharpe said he believes that whatever happens, HP will survive, but Autonomy as we've known it will probably be changing.

"From what insight I have, a lot of work has been done in strengthening customer support for Autonomy customers and there will have to be some rationalization of the portfolio with the legacy ECM/WCM business taking one direction and the core IDOL technology moving off to the labs and hardware businesses.

"As for resolution of all this for ex-Autonomy management, that will have to come from any decisions made on whether to prosecute from the relevant authorities," he said.

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