Invoice Hwang, Whose Agency Archegos Collapsed in 2021, Is About to Go on Trial

Three years in the past, a multibillion-dollar funding agency referred to as Archegos Capital Administration blew up with little warning, inflicting huge losses for some Wall Road banks and resulting in federal legal fees in opposition to the agency’s founder, Invoice Hwang.

On Wednesday, Mr. Hwang, 60, who was charged with 11 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering and market manipulation, is about to go on trial in Manhattan federal courtroom. If convicted, he may spend the remainder of his life in jail.

Federal prosecutors are looking for to safe a conviction in a significant inventory market manipulation case during which Mr. Hwang, whose authorized identify is Sung Kook Hwang, was one of many huge monetary losers. Archegos had managed cash primarily for Mr. Hwang, his household and a few of his staff, and far of his household’s wealth was worn out when the agency collapsed in March 2021. Additionally on trial with Mr. Hwang is Patrick Halligan, the previous chief monetary officer of Archegos.

Authorities have mentioned Archegos inflated the costs of shares it invested in by utilizing tens of billions of borrowed {dollars} from Wall Road banks to maintain shopping for increasingly more shares. The surging share costs inspired different buyers to purchase, pushing the costs even greater. At its peak, the technique elevated Mr. Hwang’s internet value to greater than $35 billion, and the general worth of the shares that Archegos owned was greater than $100 billion.

Damian Williams, the U.S. legal professional for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, referred to as Archegos’s scheme to pump up the worth of shares “historic in scope” when his workplace introduced the submitting of fees in opposition to Mr. Hwang and Mr. Halligan in April 2022.

Barry Berke, a lawyer for Mr. Hwang, declined to remark. However at a courtroom listening to a couple of months in the past, Mr. Berke mentioned his consumer “by no means bought a nickel of his shares.”

Mary Mulligan, a lawyer for Mr. Halligan, mentioned, “It is a case that ought to not have been introduced.”

Archegos was little identified earlier than its collapse and was not topic to a lot regulatory oversight as a result of it didn’t handle any cash for outdoor buyers. But it operated like a giant hedge fund given the extent of danger it had taken on and its outsize borrowings from banks — primarily via using refined by-product contracts.

The agency thrived each time the costs of the shares it purchased stored rising. However Archegos, which Mr. Hwang named after the Greek phrase for chief or prince, seemingly couldn’t deal with a sudden downward flip out there. It collapsed when a few of the shares it had invested in declined in worth, prompting Wall Road banks to grab securities and demand that the agency publish extra money as collateral.

The impression of Archegos’s failure on the inventory market was restricted, however a number of banks suffered losses. Credit score Suisse, which UBS has since taken over, misplaced $5.5 billion. UBS itself misplaced about $861 million from lending to Archegos. Final summer season, UBS agreed to pay practically $400 million to regulators in the USA and Britain due to Credit score Suisse’s danger failures within the Archegos affair. Nomura and Morgan Stanley had been among the many banks that additionally misplaced cash.

If convicted on all counts, Mr. Hwang may, in concept, be sentenced to 220 years in jail — although a sentence of 20 years is extra life like. By comparability, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the crypto entrepreneur who was sentenced in March to 25 years in a federal jail for defrauding prospects out of $8 billion, confronted a most sentence of 110 years.

The trial begins with jury choice on Wednesday. Prosecutors intend to name as witnesses two former Archegos staff who pleaded responsible and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

The federal authorities mentioned a crucial element of the scheme concerned officers at Archegos who misled the banks in regards to the agency’s general footprint out there. The authorities additionally contended that Mr. Hwang had engaged in a “pump and brag scheme” — a method designed to considerably enhance the agency’s inventory holdings and make Mr. Hwang seem like an “extraordinarily rich particular person.”

However prosecutors have but to elucidate simply how Mr. Hwang deliberate to revenue by driving up the costs of the shares Archegos owned. Even the federal choose who will preside over the trial mentioned he was flummoxed by Mr. Hwang’s technique of merely shopping for increasingly more shares.

“What did he need? What did he need to obtain? Being a giant shot. I suppose that’s doable, but it surely doesn’t appear to me that was his goal,” the choose, Alvin Hellerstein, mentioned at a listening to final 12 months. “I can’t work out his goal.”

Prosecutors have mentioned testimony about potential exit methods for Mr. Hwang will probably be produced on the trial.

That is the second time that Mr. Hwang, a former hedge fund supervisor, has been accused of violating federal securities legal guidelines.

In 2012, he reached a civil settlement with the Securities and Change Fee in an insider buying and selling investigation that concerned his previous hedge fund — Tiger Asia Administration — and was fined $44 million. Mr. Hwang was not criminally charged, however Tiger Asia pleaded responsible to federal insider-trading fees in a associated motion introduced by federal prosecutors in New Jersey.

In settling with securities regulators, Mr. Hwang was barred from managing public cash for not less than 5 years. Regulators formally lifted the ban in 2020. However as an alternative of managing cash for outdoor buyers, Mr. Hwang targeted on managing cash for himself and his household.

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