Mike Lynch can be extradited to the United States to face fraud charges, a judge has ruled.
A judge said the British technology millionaire, who faces decades in prison if found guilty over the sale of his software company to Hewlett-Packard in 2011, should be sent to California to answer criminal charges.
The ruling will now go to the Home Office to finalise the decision.
“I’ve rejected your various challenges under the Extradition Act,” District Judge Michael Snow told Mr Lynch at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
“I am required to send your case to the Secretary of State for a decision about whether you are to be extradited to America.”
The case is likely to spark a diplomatic row. Campaigners have fiercely opposed Mr Lynch’s extradition, and the Serious Fraud Office declined to pursue charges against him.
US prosecutors have accused Mr Lynch, 56, of 17 counts of fraud related to the £7.1bn takeover of Autonomy, a former FTSE 100 company, to H-P in 2011.
Lawyers for Mr Lynch, who denies any wrongdoing, have described the charges as a “travesty of justice”, saying the deal involved a UK company and was a matter for the British courts.
Mr Lynch will appeal the decision to the High Court, said his lawyer, Chris Morvillo of Clifford Chance.
“Dr Lynch is disappointed that the Court has ruled against him without waiting for the High Court’s judgment in the civil case that examined all these issues. Dr Lynch denies the charges against him.
“At the request of the US Department of Justice, the Court has ruled that a British citizen who ran a British company listed on the London Stock Exchange should be extradited to America over allegations about his conduct in the UK. We say this case belongs in the UK. If the Home Secretary nonetheless decides to order extradition, Dr Lynch intends to appeal.”
H-P wrote down most of the value of its Autonomy acquisition a year after the deal, claiming former Autonomy executives had inflated its value by exaggerating its revenues.
The SFO pursued an investigation but declined to bring charges, although the fraud office is still able to do so.
In 2018, US prosecutors charged Mr Lynch with fraud, forcing him to step down as chairman of the cyber security company Darktrace and sought extradition in 2019.
Mr Lynch’s legal team had sought to delay a decision until the result of a $5bn (£3.6bn) High Court trial from H-P against Mr Lynch, saying the outcome was important.
However, Judge Snow said that this could mean months until a decision on extradition.
Mr Justice Hildyard is due to issue a draft decision on the civil trial by September 24, although it was likely to take longer until it is made public.
On Thursday, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the decision was likely to be more than 1,000 pages long, with Mr Lynch’s lawyers arguing that it could contain crucial evidence that the extradition case should take into account.