(Bloomberg) -- UK tech tycoon Mike Lynch took the witness stand and disclaimed responsibility for what US prosecutors say was a “massive” Silicon Valley fraud, the $11 billion sale of his software startup to Hewlett Packard Co. 13 years ago. 

He already lost a London civil trial in 2022 over the ill-fated acquisition of his Autonomy Corp., which in 2011 was Britain’s second-biggest technology company. Now, Lynch is fighting criminal charges that he duped Hewlett Packard into overpaying billions of dollars.

Lynch began his testimony Thursday in San Francisco federal court by telling the jury he’s watched a parade of government witnesses over the last 10 weeks that he’s never met recall discussions and accounting decisions he wasn’t involved with.

“I’ve had lots of reactions to what I’ve heard but I guess it’s summed up by one word: It’s surreal,” he said. 

The once-prominent entrepreneur was asked by his own lawyer if Autonomy was “perfect.”

“Of course it wasn’t perfect,” he said. “The reality of life is that it’s nuanced and it’s messy and sometimes you do your best to get through it, and companies are just like that.” 

Read More: UK Tech Star Lynch Makes Risky Move to Testify in US Fraud Trial

It’s rare that white-collar defendants take the risk of testifying because prosecutors have wide latitude to ask them questions about the behavior, choices, conversations and motivations that gave rise to the crimes they’re charged with. Lynch faces as long as 25 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him.

Prosecutors have alleged that Autonomy used a number of accounting tricks to make its revenue growth appear better than it was, such as back-dating contracts, pretending to ship goods and overpaying for unnecessary services so vendors would then buy Autonomy products.

Lynch told the jury he delegated work that he wasn’t an expert in, joking that he could write code, “but not sell toffee.” He claimed ignorance of some of the wrongdoing attributed to him and denied other allegations.

“If you take a microscope to a spotless kitchen you’ll find bacteria,” he said.

Lynch has been accused of recognizing sales to resellers even when those resellers didn’t have any “real” customers to ultimately buy the product from them. But Lynch said Thursday that Autonomy had millions of people globally using their software.

“And that’s the definition of real,” he said.

He distanced himself from Sushovan Hussain, the former finance chief at Autonomy who was convicted of fraud by a San Francisco jury in 2018 and sentenced to five years in prison. 

Read More: Tech Tycoon Lynch Called ‘Massive Fraud’ Mastermind by US 

The jury has been presented with much of the same evidence and witness testimony that helped Hewlett Packard persuade the London judge to conclude two years ago hat Lynch and Hussain inflated Autonomy’s revenue to induce the sale. Hewlett Packard has asked the UK judge for $4 billion in damages, though he’s said he’ll likely award “substantially less.”

Lynch also testified at the civil trial, telling the court that former Hewlett Packard Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman was “out of her depth” and botched the integration of the deal.

The San Francisco trial is now in its final stretch, with the two sides expected to finish presenting evidence next week. The case will then proceed to closing arguments and the jury will deliberate on a verdict.

The case is US v. Lynch, 18-cr-00577, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

(Updates with Lynch testimony from the 11th paragraph)

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