Sushovan Hussain, 55, was convicted last year of making false statements to investors about Autonomy’s revenues before an $11 billion takeover of the British software company by Hewlett Packard in 2011.
Autonomy developed software for businesses and at its peak was Britain’s second largest software company. It specialised in the analysis of large pools of data, using research techniques developed by Mike Lynch, its founder and former chief executive.
However, within a year of acquiring the FTSE 100 company, HP had to write $8.8 billion off the value of Autonomy. US prosecutors claimed that Mr Hussain inflated Autonomy’s financial performance by booking revenue from deals ahead of time.
Mr Hussain was sentenced at a San Francisco court last night after being found guilty on one count of conspiracy, 14 counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud in April last year. He was sentenced to another three years of supervised release.
The 60-month prison term is shorter than the 144 months that the US Department of Justice had requested. The court had dismissed this request as “disproportionate”. Mr Hussain was fined $4 million plus the $6.1 million he gained from the premium that HP paid for Autonomy.
Mr Hussain’s lawyers said he will appeal against his conviction. He was denied bail pending the sentence and will have to report for the start of his prison sentence by June 15. He has not been allowed the leave the US since being arrested in 2016.
In court, Mr Hussain spoke of the trial’s impact on his wife and two daughters, saying he was “deeply sorry for the pain and suffering” he caused them.
Prisoners Abroad, a human rights charity, said that most UK nationals serve their entire sentence in the US and are then deported to the UK. A small number apply for transfers, a complex process.
As a UK national, Mr Hussain could request a transfer to a British prison but he cannot do so until after his appeal is heard, if he is allowed to appeal.
A spokesman for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of the two divisions that HP split into in 2015, said: “That Mr Hussain attempted to depict the fraud as nothing more than a misunderstanding of international accounting rules was, and remains, patently ridiculous.”
The sentencing comes as Mr Hussain and Mr Lynch, 53, fight the largest civil fraud claim ever to be heard in a British court as Hewlett Packard Enterprise sue the pair for $5 billion in damages.
The British men have denied wrongdoing.