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Serious Fraud Office may have conflict in Autonomy probe

Britain’s fraud-busting agency said it might have a conflict of interest in its investigation of Autonomy, a British software company accused of accounting irregularities by its new US owners Hewlett-Packard.

The Serious Fraud Office said yesterday it might be using an Autonomy product, Introspect, as a document management tool as it opened a criminal probe into how the UK company was sold.

The agency said it was now making inquiries to establish whether it could continue its probe into allegations that the US PC and printer maker was duped when it bought Autonomy for $11.1 billion in 2011.

“The SFO is keen to ensure that there is now no conflict of interest or perception of such a conflict, and it is obliged as a first step to make inquiries to ensure that it can continue as the investigating body,” it said in a statement.

The cash-strapped SFO has been dubbed the “Seriously Flawed Office” since some of its high-profile cases collapsed, or victories were only partial. Last year’s botched probe into property moguls Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz left it fighting a £300 million damages claim.

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