A Macquarie Bank hedge fund manager admitted to front-running his own fund to pay himself “performance fees.”
Oswyn De Silva, a Malaysian citizen who worked in Macquarie’s London office, earned A$3.6 million for himself buying shares his fund was about to buy, and then selling them to the fund at a profit, according to authorities. De Silva denied that his actions adversely affected Australian investors, but—after repeated questioning by the judge—backtracked on his claims that he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“In my mind, your honor, as of today, I’ve come to the conclusion that I did both something wrong and something right,” De Silva told the New South Wales Supreme Court last week. “What I did wrong was basically try to also benefit from stock positions in my own account.”
De Silva is not on trial for the alleged improper trading. Instead, he’s going to jail for trying to flee the country to avoid questioning by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. His admissions in court cannot be used against him if he is eventually charged for the trading.
De Silva said he thought he earned his “performance fees” for putting up with Macquarie’s high-pressure culture and the 21-hour days he put in. He also said he used the money he earned to cover his medical costs; De Silva was diagnosed with HIV in November 2005.
“I was basically told to do a hedge fund strategy and I said, ‘I’ll do it. I’ll do so well. I’ll make sure,’ because if the fund doesn’t perform well, I’m out of a job.”
De Silva resigned from Macquarie in 2008.