UK regulators end fraud probe into HP's Autonomy acquisition

A U.S. investigation into the sale of Autonomy to HP is ongoing

U.K. regulators have closed their investigation into Hewlett-Packard's botched acquisition of Autonomy, a British software company that HP has accused of inflating its value and of improper accounting.

The Serious Fraud Office, the U.K. government department that investigates and prosecutes fraud, bribery and corruption, "has concluded that, on the information available to it, there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction," the department said Monday. The SFO did not say on what basis it made its decision to close its investigation.

Jurisdiction over the investigation has been ceded to U.S. authorities, whose investigation is ongoing, the U.K. department said.

HP bought Autonomy in 2011 partly for its business search engine technology. But the $11.7 billion acquisition has been beset by issues tied to Autonomy's accounting. HP CEO Meg Whitman has said that Autonomy misled HP about the state of its business before the acquisition, causing HP to overpay for it. HP took an $8.8 billion charge as a result of what HP called serious accounting improprieties that occurred at Autonomy before HP acquired it.

HP shareholders filed suit in 2012. In 2013, the U.K.'s SFO began its investigation into the sale of Autonomy to HP.

Now, Autonomy is off the hook, at least in the U.K.

"As the SFO made clear, the U.S. authorities are continuing their investigation and we continue to cooperate with that investigation. HP remains committed to holding the architects of the Autonomy fraud accountable," an HP spokeswoman said Monday via email.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while a spokesman for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which investigates fraud, deception and unfair businesses practices in the U.S., declined to comment.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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