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Britain's fraud prosecutor sees no conflict in Autonomy probe

A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS
A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Thursday it had found no conflict of interest in its investigation into Autonomy, the British software company accused of accounting irregularities by its U.S. owners Hewlett-Packard.

SFO head David Green said the investigation was proceeding into allegations that the U.S. computer and printer maker was duped when it bought Autonomy for $11.1 billion in 2011.

"We are not conflicted on Autonomy," Green told Reuters in an interview.

The SFO said in March it might be using an Autonomy product, Introspect, as a document management tool and therefore needed to establish whether it could continue a criminal investigation into how the British company was sold.

HP, which bought Autonomy in a bid to make it the centerpiece of a shift into software, stunned the market a little over a year after the purchase by writing off three quarters of the British firm's value.

It alleged "some former members of Autonomy's management team used accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures" to inflate the company's apparent worth. Autonomy has denied the allegations.

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by David Evans)

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