Jury begins deliberating at Archegos founder’s criminal trial

By Jody Godoy

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A jury in Manhattan federal court began deliberations on Tuesday in the criminal case against Archegos Capital Management founder Sung Kook “Bill” Hwang, accused by prosecutors of manipulating stock prices before the 2021 collapse of his $36 billion private investment firm.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers delivered closing arguments on Monday in the trial of Hwang and Patrick Halligan, his Archegos deputy and co-defendant. 

Hwang’s lawyer told jurors that the prosecution has criminalized aggressive but legal trading methods. A federal prosecutor painted a different picture, saying Hwang and Halligan unlawfully pumped up stock prices and lied about the holdings of Archegos to the banks with which they traded.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein instructed jurors on the law before deliberations began.

Hwang, 60, pleaded not guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy and 10 counts of fraud and market manipulation. Halligan, 47, pleaded not guilty to fraud and racketeering conspiracy. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison on each charge, though any sentence would likely be much lower and would be imposed by the judge based on a range of factors.

The trial, which began in May, centers on the implosion of Archegos – a spectacular collapse that left global banks nursing billions in losses and, according to prosecutors, caused more than $100 billion in shareholder losses at companies in its portfolio.

Prosecutors have accused Hwang of secretly amassing outsized stakes in multiple companies without actually holding their stock. They have said Hwang lied to banks about the size of Archegos’ derivative positions to borrow billions of dollars that he and his deputies then used to inflate the underlying stocks.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which brought the case, Hwang’s positions eclipsed those of the companies’ largest investors, driving up stock prices. At its peak, prosecutors said Archegos had $36 billion in assets and $160 billion of exposure to equities.

When stock prices fell in March 2021, the banks demanded additional deposits, which Archegos could not make. The banks then sold the stocks backing Hwang’s swaps, wiping out $100 billion in value for shareholders and billions at the banks, including $5.5 billion for Credit Suisse, now part of UBS, and $2.9 billion for Nomura Holdings.

(This story has been corrected to say ‘billions’ instead of ‘$40 billion’ in paragraph 9)

(Reporting by Jody Godoy; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham)



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