In this podcast series, I have used the current Broadway performance by Glenda Jackson as King Lear to introduce several compliance topics. Today, I want to discuss the role of The Fool. Initially I should note that the actor who played it, Ruth Wilson, also played Cordelia; which in and off itself is rather amazing. The Fool did well to speak truth to power during the play and Wilson was excellent in both roles.

Wilson’s performance as The Fool added a shading of interpretation that certainly works. It also informs today’s review topic which is who was the fool and who was the criminal in one of the most notorious acquisitions in recent memory, the Hewlett-Packard (HP) acquisition of the UK company Autonomy.  The matter is now on trial in London, it being the largest UK civil trial in history with HP claiming some $5 billion in damages. The former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch is in the dock as he will be in the US when his criminal case goes to trial sometime after the conclusion of this civil action.

The trial began last month and the fireworks have already started, with HP claiming Lynch and his former CFO engaged in massive fraud; the trial judge asking HP what accounting standards they used to evaluate HP and Lynch basically saying HP dropped the ball completely in both the acquisition and after closing for a variety of reason. Based upon all of this tomfoolery I thought a review of HP actions was warranted today.

Perhaps the simple truth is that everyone involved in this matter was a Fool.