‘British Bill Gates’ Sent to San Francisco for Fraud Trial
British tech billionaire, Mike Lynch has been extradited to the US to face fraud charges. After a years-long fight against extradition, he lost his final appeal against extradition last month.
Lynch was put on a flight to San Francisco accompanied by US Marshalls. He faced a court in San Francisco where the court ordered him to post $100m bail.
Lynch Extradited after Fraud Accusation
The tech entrepreneur is accused of inflating sales figures for his UK-listed company Autonomy before selling it to Hewlett Packard for $11 billion.
HP started civil proceedings against him to recover the proceeds paid. The US Attorney filed fraud charges against him. His former finance director Sushovan Hussain at Autonomy was already jailed for 5 years after pleading guilty to similar charges in 2018.
US/UK Extradition Treaty Unbalanced
The case highlights the unbalanced nature of the US/UK extradition treaty. The UK sends 3 times more people to the US than the US sends in the other direction. The US demands a higher standard of proof than the US requires to extradite one of its citizens. The UK will send its citizens to the US based on little more than an accusation.
This case stands out because the business operated in the UK and was subject to UK law. It was listed in the UK. The HP acquisition was made by a foreign subsidiary of HP and not the US company.
Case Should be Heard in the UK
Lynch argued, with some justification, that any trial should be in the UK and not in the US. He now faces a lengthy trial and a multi-decade jail sentence in the US. The extradition of Lynch has been strongly condemned by UK legislator David Davis, who has long fought against the unbalanced extradition treaty with the US.
Fellow British entrepreneurs have protested the unreasonable use of the US/UK extradition treaty. The UK government, however, has long resisted making changes to the agreement.
Anyone facing trial in the US is subject to a kind of judicial blackmail where they’re forced to plead guilty to avoid the risk of standing trial and facing a multi-decade prison sentence. Long sentences for white-collar crime are uncommon in European countries.
Other British citizens facing US extradition have sought safe haven in third countries such as Russia rather than face a long battle against extradition to the US with the odds against them. This case may serve as a warning to UK entrepreneurs to use extra caution when concluding US transaction. The risk of being extradited to the US as a result of a failed business deal may seem a remote prospect for most but for Mike Lynch the consequences are very real.
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British MP David Davis speaks out after Mike Lynch is extradited to the US to face fraud charges after $11 billion deal