Peregrine boss to be extradited to the US

A former executive at US technology firm Peregrine Systems is facing extradition to the US on fraud charges.

Jeremy Crook, 53, is facing charges in the US accused of defrauding Peregrine shareholders for several years.

Mr Crook had hoped to travel to the US so as to hand himself over to American authorities. However, his passport was confiscated at a London court hearing.

If found guilty, Mr Crook could face up to 85 years in jail. He denies the charges.

The indictments relate to allegations of accounting fraud and an attempted cover-up at San Diego-based Peregrine, triggered by a federal investigation that began in 2002.

The probe began in May of that year after the group issued a warning about its finances.

It soon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, claiming its accounts had been inflated. That triggered a sharp drop in its share price, which wiped $4bn off the value of the company.

Peregrine emerged from Chapter 11 – which allows a company to continue trading while its finances are sorted out – a year later. It was sold to Hewlett Packard for $425m in 2005.

A criminal trial into the matter is set to begin in April 2007. Several of those indicted have already entered guilty pleas, including former Worldwide Sales chief Douglas Powanda.

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