Apr 27, 2022 - Economy

Archegos founder Bill Hwang indicted on fraud charges

A photo Bill Hwang from December 12, 2012.

Photo: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill Hwang, the founder of the family office whose messy collapse cost banks billions last year, was arrested and hit with federal criminal charges Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be one of the most high-profile white-collar prosecutions in recent memory.

The latest: Federal authorities accused Hwang, as well as some other former Archegos employees, of fraudulently misleading brokerage firms and using deceptive and manipulative trading techniques to move market prices.

What they're saying: "Hwang and his co-conspirators duped some of Wall Street's leading banks. And how'd they do that? We allege that they lied, a lot," said Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during a press conference announcing the charges.

"They lied about how big Archegos' investments had become. They lied about how much cash Archegos had on hand. They lied about the nature of the stocks that Archegos held. And we allege that they told those lies for a reason, so that the banks would have no idea that Archegos was really up to a big market manipulation scheme."
— U.S. Attorney Damian Williams

The other side: "We are extremely disappointed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has seen fit to indict a case that has absolutely no factual or legal basis; a prosecution of this type, for open-market transactions, is unprecedented and threatens all investors," Lawrence Lustberg, an attorney for Hwang, told Axios in an email.

  • "Bill Hwang is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing; there is no evidence whatsoever that he committed any kind of crime, let alone the overblown allegations that pervade this indictment."

The backstory: Hwang, a low-key former hedge fund manager, became a household name on Wall Street last year when the big bets he made — using large amounts of borrowed money — on movements in stocks such as Discovery Inc., and ViacomCBS, went south.

  • He was unable to meet margin calls from some of Wall Street's supposedly sophisticated brokerages operations, triggering a tumultuous series of events that ultimately saddled banks like Credit Suisse, Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley with billions in losses.

Editor’s note: A previous version incorrectly included Deutsche Bank in a list of banks that incurred losses connected to Archegos.

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