The Hedge Fund Of Unsound Method

The horror...the horror.
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By Todd Barnard from Austin, Texas, United States of America (Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Todd Barnard from Austin, Texas, United States of America (Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the legalistic retellings of Heart of Darkness by the SEC and Justice Dept., with Och-Ziff Capital Management cast as the ivory trading company and former Och-Ziff London chief Michael Cohen as Col. Kurtz, the doings of the hedge fund’s inner station have been reasonably well laid out: Bribing Muammar Gaddafi’s sovereign-wealth fund for mandates, bribing the Congolese for mining rights, bribing officials in Chad, Niger and Guinea, for good measure (and mining rights). The brown current of redemptions running swiftly out of the hedge fund, ebbing into the sea of inexorable time. The government’s chief witness saying things like, “You sistematicaly used corruption in Africa to get the assets you have.” The horror, indeed.

But there was so much more that the Feds couldn’t put into their reboot of Apocalypse Now, because the nastiness was only occurring adjacent to Och-Ziff’s dealings rather than as part of them.

AML, and the many entities that came to touch it, form an extraordinary web into which Och-Ziff invested hundreds of millions of dollars in client money. It has ties to the prisons of apartheid-era South Africa, the diamond mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and even the privatization of the former Soviet Union. The web extended over the shifting political landscape of a continent in transition, through public and private markets, and at offices in Johannesburg, London, Miami, New York, Paris and Tel Aviv. The dealings of Och-Ziff’s African investment partners spanned numerous countries, including Chad, the DRC, Libya, Niger, the Republic of Guinea, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The network, worthy of a John le Carré novel, is only starting to unravel.

Or a Joseph Conrad novel. Or the addled mind of Donald Trump.

Alpha Condé was elected president of Guinea on November 15, 2010. His win came as a surprise to some observers: Condé had received 18.2 percent of the vote in the first-round runoff, while his most popular opponent received 43.7 percent. In the final round, however, Condé won with 52.5 percent of the votes cast.

RIGGED! Except, you know, probably actually rigged, with Och-Ziff’s business partners ponying up the necessary cash, and Condé rewarding them with seized iron mines.

In an eyewitness statement onetime BSG employee Asher Avidan recalls a March 2012 meeting at Hennig’s offices in London. There Hennig allegedly told Avidan that “President Condé had sought the help of the South African government to fund his election campaign, and asked that they loan $50 million in exchange for options and/or stakes in operational mines and exploration projects in the country.” Condé has not been charged with election rigging or any other wrongdoing in connection with the matter.

Exactly what you’d expect from a “totally rigged system,” right, President Trump?

Dan Och’s African Nightmare [Institutional Investor]

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