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UK Serious Fraud Office Probes Autonomy With ... Autonomy! 34

Posted by timothy
from the audacity-of-autonomy dept.
judgecorp writes "The British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating whether British software firm Autonomy fiddled its accounts to inflate the price which HP paid for it to a whopping $10 billion. There's a problem though. Autonomy's Introspect software is used to trawl large data sets for information and is in use at the SFO for jobs such as this fraud investigation. It's not just ironic: the SFO says its £4.6 million contract with Autonomy could create a conflict of interest and it may have to pull out of the investigation."
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UK Serious Fraud Office Probes Autonomy With ... Autonomy!

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  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:14PM (#43174049)
    Suppose you're investigating Microsoft. Are you not allowed to use Windows, Word, Excel, Outlook?
    • by gQuigs (913879)

      Now the European Union has to move to Linux and LibreOffice. :)

      Although that doesn't even get us far enough seeing how Microsoft is a contributor to Linux.

      • Just Hyper-V, and only because they were forced to implement it due to business customers demand. Unless you count Skype, and that's just a program that was started by a completely different company and continued by Microsoft, which amazingly, made it a little better. I don't use the Skype now because of the whole 'Spying' issue, if you remember.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:23PM (#43174205)

      Except those are not analytics software. Autonomy's software is designed to find patterns and preforms advanced heuristics. It doesn't just store data without making judgements on it. This is a big difference as most analytics software rely on ever changing patterns and rulesets that are maintained by the manufacturer. In fact, much of this software runs on the software manufacturer's servers, making it possible and even easy for Autonomy to "adjust" unfavorable results.

      • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:56PM (#43174653)

        Easy solution: require Autonomy to make available detailed logs of their server activity so that any fiddling can be detected. Then use Autonomy software to analyze those logs for any suspicious activity.

        • Funny, but even that would not work in this case. The "conflict of interest" element is not about whether Autonomy would fiddle the results, but about the fact that the investigating party (the Serious Fraud Office) already has a financial relationship with one of the parties involved in the investigation.
          That creates a situation where the SFO cannot be guaranteed to be impartial - if they investigate and find that Autonomy did not artificially and fraudulently inflate their value, then HP have the option o

      • Clippy: I see you're writing a lawsuit against Microsoft there...

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:11PM (#43174813)

      Suppose you're investigating Microsoft. Are you not allowed to use Windows, Word, Excel, Outlook?

      Of course you aren't, all such investigations are to be performed from secured GNU/Hurd workstations!

    • by sjames (1099)

      That depends on how you use them. I'm not sure you could/should trust (for example) a MS debugger to track down an alleged dirty trick in MS code, there's too much chance it might also be hacked to not show the trick. If you just want to use office to write up a report of your findings about their business dealings, that's probably OK.

      I do think that once MS was convicted of criminal activity, government really should have stopped using their software though, for the same reason you wouldn't give Al Capone

  • by UneducatedSixpack (2829861) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:14PM (#43174069)
    In other words UK SFO has stack overflow. Recursion is a bitch.
  • by Hartree (191324) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:16PM (#43174099)

    Thank heaven it's not the Frivolous and Silly Fraud Office.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In UK the sfo is known as serious farce office

    The SFO is notorious for bungling fraud fases

    Thuis story is typical SFO

    • Is hypocrisy a valid defense against fraud charges in the UK? If so, can I live there? If so, can you help me with the 6 million pounds in my bank account, as prince of the my current country?

  • by rsborg (111459) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:28PM (#43174281) Homepage

    UK Govt is now manned by a bunch of corporate whores (even more so than the last bunch) who just want to ensure that the software they're using to discover fraud can be "friendly" to those who are "on the inside".

    Last thing a corrupt government wants is any real transparency. The best is some form of translucency, like a shower door or rose-tinted glasses - so what you think you see hides what is really happening.

    ok, [/rant]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Em Adespoton (792954)

      UK Govt is now manned by a bunch of corporate whores (even more so than the last bunch) who just want to ensure that the software they're using to discover fraud can be "friendly" to those who are "on the inside".

      Last thing a corrupt government wants is any real transparency. The best is some form of translucency, like a shower door or rose-tinted glasses - so what you think you see hides what is really happening.

      ok, [/rant]

      I didn't RTFA, but I at least read the headlines... which stated that they raised a conflict of interest flag precisely because of the potential for what you said. I just wish more government offices would be this transparent. I also hope the SFO hands this over to some other competent group rather than just dropping it because the company could fiddle with the results of their own investigation.

      Personally, I'd still like to see Autonomy's analysis of their own books -- if they find themselves guilty, it'

      • by sa1lnr (669048)

        "I also hope the SFO hands this over to some other competent group"

        You do know that the deserved old nickname for the SFO is the Serious Farce Office?

        • "I also hope the SFO hands this over to some other competent group"

          You do know that the deserved old nickname for the SFO is the Serious Farce Office?

          Yes indeed... I see how my addition of "other" could have implications that were unintended. That said, the fact that they've at least admitted this time that they wouldn't be able to do a reliable job gives me some modicum of respect for them. Dealing with Fraud is a thankless and tricky business, as one person's serious fraud is another person's frivolous fraud....

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:32PM (#43174341)

    "Good afternoon, this is the Serious Fraud Office."

    "Seriously?"

    "Seriously."

    "I'm not sure my fraud problem is that serious."

    "Ah, you're looking for the Frivolous Fraud Office. That's down the hall."

  • by JBMcB (73720) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:59PM (#43174687)

    Go read some of the comments about Autonomy on Glassdoor. It's simultaneously amusing and sad.

    • by jesseck (942036)
      It makes me wonder, reading some of those reviews, how HP can claim they didn't know that Autonomy wasn't worth $10 billion. The reviews go back years, and in general would convince a prospective employee to think twice.
      • by JBMcB (73720)

        I don't know - maybe they did read those reviews and got the number down from $11 billion. Who knows what was taken into account. What really matters is what Autonomy supplied HP. If they gave them inflated sales figures, deflated costs, etc... then it's a problem for Autonomy.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Given the circumstances, it's a problem for HP, not autonomy.

  • as a former autonomy employee who worked with the introspect product, I find this very ironic. No doubt some of the current folks that maintain the Introspect product are getting a kick of reading emails of former and perhaps even current executives.

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