Federal prosecutors had Archegos Capital founder Bill Hwang arrested over fraud charges, with the billionaire facing up to 380 years in prison for allegedly engaging in a criminal scheme to manipulate markets and deceive banks, Bloomberg News reported April 27.
Hwang, who was at the center of the Archegos sell-off in 2021 when the company defaulted on margin calls of big investment banks, was charged alongside CFO Patrick Halligan. Both men pleaded not guilty in a lower Manhattan court and were released on bail, according to the report.
Prosecutors charged Hwang and Halligan with 11 criminal counts, including racketeering conspiracy, market manipulation, wire fraud and securities fraud, Bloomberg noted. The U.S. SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also filed related civil complaints.
Specifically, authorities claimed that Hwang inflated the value of his portfolio to more than $35 billion from $1.5 billion in one year, with Archegos’ positions puffed up through a complex scheme that used borrowed money and derivative securities to avoid public disclosure, the news outlet said.
Further, Hwang allegedly coordinated certain trades with Teng Yue Partners LP head Tao Li to maximize his market impact, according to a separate Bloomberg report, which cited unnamed sources. Li and Teng Yue have not been accused of wrongdoing, the report noted.
When the scheme began to unravel, prosecutors claimed that Hwang directed Archegos’ traders to buy shares in an attempt to buoy prices.
The indictment also named former Archegos senior executives William Tomita and Scott Becker as conspirators. Both Tomita and Becker pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the U.S. government, Bloomberg said.
Hwang’s and Halligan’s lawyers said in their respective statements that the men are innocent, according to the news outlet.
The collapse of Archegos had led regulators to investigate the banks that were tied to the sell-off, with the SEC announcing last year that it will consider new rules to improve transparency into short selling and stock lending.