HP on Tuesday shared court documents which detail its $US5 billion case against Autonomy executives, and the particular transactions it claims are not kosher.
HP has been accusing Autonomy execs of deceptive accounting since 2012, when HP wrote-off $US8.8 billion of its $US11 billion acquisition of the company. At that time, it attributed $US5 billion to alleged fraud by Autonomy.
Autonomy officials have vehemently denied the claims.
Now, based on the court documents sent to us by HP, we have a clearer look at the exact things HP claims are fishy:
Allegedly not disclosing hardware sales. HP says that Autonomy didn’t properly disclose hardware sales, making it look like this revenue came from software, which made it look like the software business was growing faster than it was.
Allegedly improperly recognising revenue of sales through its partners. HP says Autonomy recognised revenue from software sold to partners, even when the sale from the partners to an actual customer didn’t take place. HP says Autonomy even paid some of these partners a “marketing fee” which covered the cost of the software.
Alleged quid-pro-quo deals. HP says Autonomy sometimes bought products and services from customers at a value greater than the software it sold to the customer, essentially funding the sale of its own software.
Recognising hosting revenue up front. HP says Autonomy came up with ways to charge more up front for hosting/cloud computing agreements so it could recognise more revenue faster, instead of recognising it over the term of the hosting agreement. HP says this created the appearance of a rapidly growing hosting business.
Recognising more “OEM’ revenue. HP accuses Autonomy of improperly accounting for sales of its software to hardware makers and others who would embed the software into other products. This made it look like Autonomy’s OEM business was growing very fast.
Autonomy execs claim that HP’s write-off was due to mismanagement of Autonomy after the acquisition and that many of the so-called accounting issues HP says it found come from the difference between U.S. and international accounting standards.
They say they are planning on filing a counter-suit against HP, claiming that the company “has waged a three-year smear campaign riddled with half-truths and obfuscation.”
As HP pursues its case, it hasn’t had much help, so far, from official investigations.
The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office looked into HP’s claims and closed its investigation after two years after not finding enough evidence to make it think it could win a case. The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have also opened an investigation in 2012, but haven’t moved forward with any findings yet.
HP filed its suit in London’s Chancery Division High Court.