Crispin Odey urged a woman he groped at his hedge fund headquarters to downplay the incident to the financial regulator as it considered whether he should retain his regulatory approval as a “fit and proper person”.
The woman, who is the 20th to come forward to the Financial Times with allegations of sexual misconduct against the financier, said she was assaulted by Odey in 2005 while she was an employee at his hedge fund firm. She reported the incident to Odey Asset Management’s long-time lawyers as part of an internal investigation in 2021, the results of which were also reported to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
The former employee told a Simmons & Simmons lawyer that his firm had a “culture of fairly prolific sexual harassment” by Odey, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times.
In Odey’s first admission of sexual misconduct against one of the 20 women who have made allegations against him, he told the FT: “The girl involved worked for me in 2005 and I grabbed her breasts and it was reported and investigated. “. . I had just returned from two hours [of] Root fillings and strong medications.”
The woman’s statement to Simmons raises further questions about what information the law firm included in its report and why the FCA continued to view Odey as “fit and proper”. Her report also suggests a culture of complicity at the firm, where Odey’s abusive behavior towards women appears to have been widely tolerated.
A previous Financial Times report detailed that he allegedly sexually harassed or assaulted 19 other women between 1985 and 2021. Of these, 12 were employees of the company. In 2021, Odey was acquitted of indecent assault charges. After the Financial Times’ initial report in June, banks and service providers quickly cut ties with Odey Asset Management and the company’s partners forced Odey out of the company he founded in 1991, forcing the company to dissolve.
The new woman’s account was confirmed by documents seen by the Financial Times, as well as interviews with a family member in whom she confided at the time of the incident.
The woman claims the financier sexually assaulted her one evening while she was working alone late at night in the firm’s Mayfair office. She said Odey came up behind her and massaged her shoulders before moving his hands over her chest and groping both breasts.
“I was shocked and yelled, ‘Crispin, what the hell are you doing?’” she said.
He pulled away, apologized and left, according to the woman. The next day she reported the incident to the then chairman of Odey Asset Management, David Fletcher, who later gave her a typed memo documenting the incident. A copy was also given to Odey, the woman said.
“When I was completely taken aback, they put it in writing,” she said. The note said that at the time of the attack, Odey was under the influence of medication he had taken during a dentist appointment.
Odey Asset Management recorded the incident in its personnel files, according to documents seen by the Financial Times. The woman remained at the company until 2014 and said the financier never sexually assaulted or harassed her again.
Odey told the FT he had “genuinely apologized” to the girl in question, a woman who was in her early 30s at the time, and the fact she remained at the company showed she “understood that this was an anomaly has been”.
“There was no attempt to hide this incident. It wasn’t good, but that was mainly because of the anesthesia,” he added.
In early 2022, after the FCA opened an investigation into Odey for possible misconduct, the woman received a text message from the fund manager that read: “I’m really sorry to involve you, but the FCA is pursuing a vendetta against both OAM and you.” and I are being used by them to show that there were no controls and you were afraid for my position in the company, which prevented you from speaking out.”
“I’m really sorry for embarrassing you so long ago, but I don’t think it’s reason enough to shut down OAM and label me unfit and unsuitable. Maybe they would like to call you,” he concluded. The message was signed “Cx”.
She said she didn’t answer.
The FCA declined to comment. Odey remains a fit person on the regulator’s register of persons with regulatory approval and the FCA’s investigation is ongoing.
The woman was also contacted by Odey Asset Management’s in-house counsel in December 2020 and asked if she would participate in the investigation led by Simmons & Simmons.
In a transcript of a January 2021 phone call seen by the Financial Times, a lawyer for Simmons told her it was an “exploratory exercise” and asked her to discuss the 2005 incident on record. The FT previously reported that Odey Asset Management has several similar cases, including this complaint from 2005, a sexual harassment complaint from 2004 and more recent complaints from 2020.
After describing the assault and a “culture of fairly frequent sexual harassment” by him at his company, she told Simmons that she could not recall “any measures/rules put in place to protect her” following the incident.
Simmons said his report “covers the full scope of the investigation” but declined further comment, citing client confidentiality.
Odey Asset Management declined to comment.
The woman told the FT that working at Odey Asset Management had distorted her perception of “normal workplace behavior” and that after much consideration she had decided to come forward now because she felt “an obligation to say something”. .
“I do this for no other reason than to do the right thing,” she said. “I want to show mine [children] that I am willing to do the right thing under the right circumstances.”
Additional reporting from Madison Marriage in London
Source : www.ft.com