Executives Abandon Och-Ziff Following $13 Billion In Withdrawals And An 80% Share Price Decline

What is that saying about rats and sinking ships, we forget?  Irrespective, a trio of senior executives from Och-Ziff decided they've had enough fun after their fund lost $13 billion to withdrawals over the past 13 months and their stock tanked roughly 80%.

According to Bloomberg, among those departing are Drew Gillanders, a top European equity analyst; James Keith “JK” Brown, a partner and head of investor relations; and Paula Drake, chief compliance officer.

Gillanders, who’s based in London, helped manage Och-Ziff’s successful bet on drugmaker Actelion Ltd., which soared when Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy it in January, the people said. Och-Ziff had built a stake worth about 767 million Swiss francs ($761 million), according to a filing on Dec. 24. Gillanders, who used to work for billionaire Steven Cohen when his firm was called SAC Capital Advisors, didn’t respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment.

 

Brown, a member of the partner management committee, joined in 2003 from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., according to Och-Ziff’s website. He is staying through June then leaving to pursue other interests, one of the people said. Two other partners, Lee Minton and Nathan Urquhart, are replacing him as co-heads of investor relations, the person said. Brown didn’t return an email and a phone call seeking comment.

 

Drake, who joined Och-Ziff in 2015, previously worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Drake is leaving to return to Boston, where she lives, one of the people said. The firm hired Robert Mendelson, a long-time partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, to replace her. Mendelson didn’t return a message left on his voicemail at Och-Ziff.

Among other problems, Och-Ziff has recently suffered the devastating consequences of a multi-year criminal investigation that ultimately resulted in them pleading guilty to more than $100 million in bribes paid in shady deals across Africa and $415 million in fines and penalties.  Per Bloomberg:

Those actions are part of a multiyear bribery conspiracy across Africa that benefited Och’s firm, Och-Ziff Capital Management LP, U.S. authorities said Thursday. The prosecution included regulatory sanctions against Och and another executive, a guilty plea by an Och-Ziff unit and $415 million in fines and penalties. It also broke new ground: Och-Ziff became the first hedge fund to be criminally sanctioned by the U.S. in an emerging-economy bribery scheme.

 

In court filings in federal and administrative courts Thursday, the government outlined more than $100 million in bribes as well as the questionable takeover of a Congo mining company and “suspicious payments” in Zimbabwe. Though the Securities and Exchange Commission said Och didn’t know about the bribes, the firm acknowledged it failed to accurately reflect how assets were used and didn’t have adequate internal controls.

 

"Och-Ziff, one of the largest hedge funds, positioned itself to profit from the corruption that is sadly endemic in certain parts of Africa, including Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Niger," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers in Brooklyn, New York, said in a statement. "Despite knowing that bribes were being paid to senior government officials, Och-Ziff repeatedly funded corrupt transactions."

Of course, the company has attempted to retain talent through massive equity grants, including the recent grant of $280mm worth of stock to a 34 year old trader, Jimmy Levin, but with losses like this it doesn't take a massively overpaid hedge fund guru to figure out the present value of those equity grants once they vest (hint: $0 discounted 5 years equals $0 no matter the discount rate).

Och Ziff

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