For three decades, Crispin Odey stood above London’s financial community, a larger-than-life financial mogul who was known for taking huge bets — and raking in big profits when they proved right.
But in a little more than a week, his hedge fund is suddenly on the brink of dissolution, felled by the latest accusations of sexual assault and harassment against its 64-year-old founder.
The firm, Odey Asset Management, said on Thursday that it was in “advanced discussions” to transfer funds and staff to other firms. The reason, it noted with perhaps extreme understatement, was that it had “become clear that some investment management activities of the partnership are affected by recent events.”
In a sign that investors were losing confidence in the company, Odey Asset Management said it would shut down one of its funds and had halted investors from withdrawing their money from others, after what the firm described as “a sizable level of redemption requests.” In the hedge fund world, such a move, known as “gating,” is considered a drastic step meant to avoid the equivalent of a run on the bank.
It is unclear how much money remains at Odey Asset Management, which oversaw $4.9 billion earlier this year.
Those events were kicked off, on June 8, by a nearly 7,900-word investigation in The Financial Times, in which 13 women said Mr. Odey had assaulted or abused them — at his firm’s opulent offices in Mayfair, in his London townhouse and at his country mansion in western England. Many of the women quoted also said Mr. Odey’s behavior was known throughout the firm.
In response, Odey Asset Management said it treated allegations like this “extremely seriously” and had “robust policies and procedures in place” to comply with the law and financial regulations.
Within two days of the article’s publication, the firm said it had removed Mr. Odey from the partnership. The firm’s financial counterparties — including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, which all provided crucial banking services to the firm — cut ties.
The chair of the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee, Harriett Baldwin, this week called on the Financial Conduct Authority, one of the country’s top financial regulators, to answer questions about its supervision of Odey Asset Management.
Among the questions that Ms. Baldwin submitted to the authority were the extent of its previous investigations into Mr. Odey and its broader work overseeing the firms’ handling of sexual misconduct allegations.
The likely dissolution of Odey marks a reckoning for its founder, who stood out from London’s pinstriped financier crowd with an aristocratic swashbuckler image and a willingness to take counterintuitive bets that made him lots of money.
The financier, whose full name is Robin Crispin William Odey, was born into a line of industrialists, and his grandfather was a conservative lawmaker. Mr. Odey was educated at elite British institutions, including the Harrow School and Oxford University. Nevertheless, he faced money problems when his family fell into financial ruin. (He once described his father as a “wastrel from beginning to end,” whose debts forced the sale of the family home.)
After graduating from Oxford, Mr. Odey settled on banking as a way to regain his wealth. He struck out on his own in 1991, forming Odey Asset Management as a vehicle for his gut-instinct trading style.
That tendency toward big bets often paid off, as when he bet against British banks before the 2008 financial crisis. At its height, the firm managed more than $13 billion.
But he often lost money, too. The firm’s main fund lost nearly 50 percent in 2016 through bad bets.
His fortune made him a financial celebrity, and he was a major donor to Britain’s governing Conservative Party. (Kwasi Kwarteng, whose brief stint last year as the country’s finance minister under Prime Minister Liz Truss rocked investors’ confidence in the government, previously worked for Mr. Odey’s firm.)
Mr. Odey also became an outspoken supporter of Britain’s leaving the European Union — though he drew some criticism for also earning 220 million pounds, or $280 million, from market movements tied to the event.
In an Odey-esque flourish, he quoted an Italian expression, “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca,” or “The morning has gold in its mouth,” to the BBC on the day after the Brexit referendum.
The accusations of sexual misconduct detailed by The Financial Times were not the first to be made against Mr. Odey; previous allegations were made by The Times of London, Bloomberg News and a podcast by Tortoise Media. In 2021, he went on trial over a claim of indecent assault involving an employee at the firm. He was acquitted by the presiding judge, who told him, “You leave this courthouse with your good character intact.”
Since then, Mr. Odey and his firm appeared to be poised for a recovery: Its flagship fund made a 152 percent return last year, in large part because of his highly profitable bets against British government bonds, roiled by the short-lived economic policies introduced by his former employee, Mr. Kwarteng.