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Unraveling Archegos: Shocking Testimonies Illuminate Wall Street's $10 Billion Crisis


Robert Tavares

May 20, 2024 - 09:19 am


A Turn of Testimony: Inside the Archegos Capital Collapse

In a dramatic twist in the unfolding legal drama surrounding Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management, jurors have been introduced to the pivotal role of Scott Becker, the firm’s former chief risk officer. Becker, 40, is set to take the stand, shedding light on the series of lies that led to one of the most astonishing financial downfalls in recent history.

Patrick Halligan arrives at court in New York on May 13. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

As Archegos's downfall ensues, Scott Becker is cast in the role of star witness in Bill Hwang’s trial, facing charges of fraud and market manipulation. The jury, already privy to records illustrating deception by Archegos toward its Wall Street counterparts, anticipates Becker's firsthand account. He is set to confirm that, under directives from Hwang and co-defendant Patrick Halligan, Archegos's CFO, he willfully misled the banks, precipitating a staggering $10 billion loss.

Becker's deeper affiliation with Archegos was solidified by Halligan, who also served as his superior. His testimony is crucial, potentially shaping the case's outcome. His appearance comes after Halligan's attorney, Mary Mulligan, disparaged Becker's credibility, painting him as a persuasive and practiced deceiver.

Becker, who has pleaded guilty to his involvement in the disastrous financial dealings, will be portrayed by the prosecution as a cornerstone in an elaborate scheme to deceive banking institutions and manipulate financial markets. The jury's perception of Becker's reliability will significantly influence the fates of Hwang and Halligan.

The "corrupt core" of Archegos, according to the prosecutors, encompassed figures such as Becker, Halligan, Hwang, and their former head trader William Tomita. Tomita has similarly admitted guilt and will lend his voice as a significant prosecution witness.

Drawing parallels to the FTX scandal, prosecutors will recount testimony from Archegos's inner circle, which previously sealed the rapid conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried for defrauding billions from his crypto exchange customers.

"Jurors desire a direct narrative of the transgressions, as opposed to the laborious task of piecing together email fragments and phone records," noted Kevin O'Brien, an ex-federal prosecutor. He elucidated how jurors find cooperating witnesses like Becker—those who've acknowledged culpability—particularly persuasive.

Archegos' connections trace back to Hwang's former hedge fund, Tiger Asia Management, where Becker and others were employed before migrating to Hwang’s newly formed family office. Becker, with an illustrious academic history in accounting and finance, joined through the intercession of Halligan, with whom he shared an educational fraternity at Manhattan College.

Joining Tiger Asia in 2007 as an operations assistant, Becker seamlessly transitioned to Archegos when Hwang restructured his business approach in 2013, adapting to the shift from a hedge fund to a family office after Tiger Asia's insider trading guilty plea and subsequent restrictions.

Defense lawyers are known to spin the narrative, portraying cooperators as individuals who, to save themselves, throw others under the bus. In her opening statement, Mulligan took this approach, depicting Becker as someone who, when confronted with misdeeds, chose to deflect blame rather than accept responsibility.

Jurors have already been presented with an array of Becker's alleged misconduct. Recounting a conference call from March 10, 2021, a UBS Group AG risk manager testified to Becker's assurances about Archegos's stability and unique position with UBS—a narrative that proved to be grossly inaccurate.

The court was told about Archegos's facade of financial health, with claims of vast reserves of cash and the capability to liquidate holdings expediently. These misleading reassurances were documented as Becker communicating to counterparties, days before Archegos's woeful illiquidity was exposed.

Jennifer Miranda of Jefferies Financial Group, addressing her conversations with Becker, echoed these recollections. Banking on depositional guarantees from Becker, Jefferies approved a considerable withdrawal by Archegos, only to face a $40 million deficit when Archegos spiraled into insolvency just two days later.

In his court admission, Becker conceded his part in the deception, acknowledging that his false communications to financial institutions about Archegos's asset values were intended to acquire credit extensions and engage in swaps.

Prosecutors hold that Becker's falsehoods were orchestrated at the behest of Hwang and Halligan. Yet, the defense will likely challenge this assertion, suggesting that Becker might still be obfuscating the truth.

Testimonies have also illuminated the internal discord within Archegos, potentially undermining the government's theory of an aligned “corrupt core.” Jurors heard about Becker harboring antagonistic feelings toward Halligan, his direct supervisor. This animus, reflected in their interactions, raises questions about the nature of their working relationship.

While the revelation about Becker’s personal strife with Halligan adds a layer of complexity, it also provides insight into the charged environment wherein the scheme unfolded. Understanding their dynamic could be key for the jury in untangling the web of deceptions and motives behind Archegos's collapse.

The downfall of Archegos, with a catastrophic impact on several financial institutions, has cast a long shadow over the financial industry. Credit Suisse's monumental loss of $5.5 billion was not merely a staggering blow to the firm but contributed significantly to its eventual unraveling.

As the court hears from Becker, the financial community will be rapt with attention. His testimony is not only a window into what transpired within the walls of Archegos but will also serve as a cautionary tale of what happens when unchecked ambition meets a lack of oversight in the high-stakes world of finance.

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The disgraced former chief risk officer of Archegos is poised to offer a compelling narrative, which may sway the jury and influence the jurors' opinions of Hwang and Halligan's culpability. His testimony will likely serve as a cornerstone of the case, offering an insider’s perspective on the events leading up to the firm’s spectacular downfall.

With the trial continuing, the financial industry and public observers await further details to emerge from the court proceedings, which will undoubtedly shed more light on the mechanisms of market manipulation and the repercussions of deceptive financial practices.

In the end, the testimony of Scott Becker may not only be a determining factor in the outcome of this high-profile trial but also a catalyst for industry-wide reflection and potential regulatory reform, to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.

As the market observes, the unraveling story of Archegos serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of financial systems and the destructive potential of malpractice hidden behind the facades of powerful financial entities.

The continued scrutiny of this case exemplifies the far-reaching implications of corporate misconduct and the critical importance of transparency and accountability within the financial sector.

The anticipated cross-examination of Becker and other key witnesses will be closely monitored in the financial sector, potentially setting precedents for handling similar crises and fostering a greater understanding of the critical need for effective risk management protocols.

Jurors face the formidable task of sifting through complex financial testimonies to determine the truth of the matter. The outcome of the trial could have significant repercussions, offering a measure of justice to those affected by the downfall of Archegos Capital Management.

The trial continues to garner significant attention, as the unraveling details of Archegos’s financial machinations are laid bare for public consumption. These proceedings, which now include the direct testimony of a once central figure in the firm's operations, are not only about individual justice but also about mitigating future risks to the financial markets.

As the financial world watches with bated breath, the stakes of the Archegos trial reach beyond the courtroom, impacting the very ethos of the investment community and shaping the regulatory conversations that will drive the industry forward.

The legacy of Archegos is yet to be fully determined, but with each day of testimony, the broader story comes into sharper clarity, forewarning the potential perils inherent in the global financial system.

This case, emblematic of the delicate intersection between high finance and legal boundaries, continues to captivate audiences and serves as a stark reminder of the need for ethical integrity within the world of capital management.

The trial of Archegos's executives will likely be looked upon as a defining moment in financial jurisprudence, with implications for how future transgressions are treated and the safeguards put in place to protect the integrity of financial markets around the world.

In an era where transparency is increasingly demanded by investors and regulators alike, the startling revelations from the Archegos scandal reiterate the essentiality of candid disclosures and the perils of duplicitous conduct.

As the legal proceedings march on, the world will learn whether the confessions of insiders like Becker will suffice in unraveling the complex narrative behind one of Wall Street's most infamous implosions.

Ultimately, the Archegos saga, as told through the eyes of a crucial witness in court, provides a compelling study of the potentially catastrophic fallout when financial oversight fails and responsibility is eschewed for personal gain.

Expectations remain high as more details are anticipated to emerge from the ongoing trial, promising further insights into the pivotal moments that led to one of the most significant financial collapses of the 21st century.

In conclusion, the trial of Archegos Capital Management is not just the prosecution of financial malfeasance but a litmus test for the resilience and robustness of financial regulation, serving as a cautionary tale to all stakeholders in the financial world.