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UK Watchdog Pressured to Answer Questions About Odey Probe

UK Watchdog Pressured to Answer Questions About Odey Probe
Crispin Odey, founding partner of Odey Asset Management LLP, outside Hendon Magistrates' Court during a break in proceedings in London, U.K., on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Famously bearish hedge fund manager and prominent Brexit supporter Odey will fight a criminal charge of indecent assault stemming from an incident during the summer of 1998.

The UK’s financial regulator should reveal the extent of its probe into Odey Asset Management following a string of allegations of sexual assault by the firm’s founder, according to the head of Parliament’s Treasury Committee.

Harriett Baldwin’s call for more information from the Financial Conduct Authority comes after a week of turmoil at the asset manager. The turmoil was triggered by the publication of a Financial Times investigation into Crispin Odey’s treatment of women over a 25-year period.

The fallout has snowballed and prompted the firm to sever ties with its founder after clients and banks walked away, forcing a fund to close and the gating of two others. It also emerged that the FCA has already been investigating Odey’s conduct for two years since he faced a criminal sexual assault complaint — he was acquitted after a London trial in 2021. The existence of a probe has led to questions around the speed and effectiveness of the FCA’s processes.

“Culture in financial services, and the experiences of women in the industry, have been ongoing concerns of the Treasury Committee,” Baldwin wrote in the letter Wednesday. “The FT paints a deeply negative picture of one powerful individual’s conduct regarding those two committee priorities and is potentially damaging to the reputation of the entire sector.”

The lawmakers asked a series of questions to the FCA’s chief, Nikhil Rathi, about the regulator’s supervision of the firm, whether it was expanding its investigation into Odey and the FCA’s wider work on non-financial misconduct, according to the letter. The committee is planning to a hold hearing with the FCA later in July.

Odey’s regulatory registry status with the FCA was downgraded to a “client dealing” role a few months ahead of the criminal trial from chief executive and partner, according to records with the regulator. The lawmakers asked the FCA for clarification around that and if the regulator suspects any attempt to escape direct oversight.

“We understand the committee’s interest in this and we’ll of course reply shortly,” an FCA spokesperson said in an email.

Born into a well-known family — Odey’s grandfather was a Tory MP and his mother came from an old-line mercantile family — the University of Oxford alumnus started his firm in 1991. Odey Asset Management initially managed $150 million, including money from hedge-fund titans George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones.

In the years since, his flagship Odey European Inc. hedge fund, which will now be run by co-manager Freddie Neave, has swung between outsized gains and stark losses. Odey, a famously bearish money manager, had little investing success between 2015 and 2020 when his wagers repeatedly failed to pay off. Last year marked his best on record, a stunning turnaround.


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