Hewlett-Packard Co.'s claims of financial improprieties atAutonomy Corp. have accounting experts questioning whether theallegations are an attempt to divert attention from yet another badacquisition.

Hewlett-Packard said yesterday it recorded an $8.8 billionwritedown related to its purchase last year of Autonomy, the U.K.software maker. More than $5 billion of that impairment charge wasthe result of accounting practices at Autonomy, Hewlett-Packardsaid in a statement. About $200 million of Autonomy's revenue hadbeen recorded prematurely or improperly, according toHewlett-Packard's general counsel.

“How does that translate into a $5 billion write-off?” said LynnE. Turner, former chief accountant of the U.S. Securities andExchange Commission and a managing director at LitiNomics Inc., aneconomic and forensic consulting firm. “The big issue isn't thefraud they're talking about. The big issue is that HP has madeacquisitions that have turned out to be a disaster.”

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