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It may not seem that way to the untrained and unfaithful observer, but the “Archegos” in Archegos Capital Management seems to have been an oblique reference to Jesus. The word, in Greek, means “author” or “captain,” and founder Bill Hwang was a devoted Christian who led weekly Bible readings—well, Bible listenings, as it happens—before hitting the trading floor. And there, prosecutors allege, he sought to follow his savior’s lead, in a sense, not turning water into wine, but turning money into momentum (and then more money):

In some cases, Hwang would instruct traders to sell a stock or enter a short position in the morning, which gave the family office more trading capacity to buy when it needed to boost the price.

“Hwang referred to this practice as using ‘bullets,’” according to the indictment. “Hwang directed the traders to use the ‘bullets,’ or trading capacity, at opportune moments that would create upward pressure on the stock price. Hwang employed this strategy with increasing frequency as counterparties began to curtail or restrict his access to additional trading capacity.”

Alas, before his risk chief and head trader turned Judas, Hwang’s CFO (and now co-defendant) did his turn as St. Thomas.

“Are we going to be able to pay for these trades today? I don’t see how we can.”

Hwang, however, never lost faith.

He demanded his traders buy the stock. Then buy some more. In the end, Archegos added $900 million in a day.

Scott Becker, the chief risk director, protested. The firm’s head trader, William Tomita, made his own plea to Hwang, only to return with his tail between his legs: “I spoke to Bill and he said to just keep working the orders.”

It didn’t work, and Archegos’s leadership team prepared for margin calls the next day. Hwang had other ideas, instead encouraging traders to use the last of the firm’s cash to manipulate certain stocks to prop up their price. All the while, Becker was pulling as much money from Wall Street banks as possible, falsely claiming that the family office had $9 billion in excess cash while it was running on fumes.

And now he faces his own, admittedly less theatrical bloodthirsty, Pilate.

If convicted of all counts, Hwang faces a maximum sentence of as many as 380 years in prison.

Bill Hwang Archegos Catastrophe Was Wilder Than Anyone Knew [Bloomberg]

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