Monday, 8 February 2016
Last updated 3 hours ago
Nov 19 2012 | 11:50am ET
After five years in hiding, former hedge fund manager and international man of mystery Florian Homm is back.
Or, to be more accurate, was back: The Absolute Capital Management co-founder briefly and quietly reappeared for a series of interviews to mark the publication of his book, in which he tells some of his story. But Homm, accused by investors of defrauding them of hundreds of millions of dollars and by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of portfolio pumping, is back underground, hiding from what he calls in his book, published in German as Kopf Geld Jagd, "a long list of enemies." (The book is expected to appear in English translation as Rogue Financier: Adventures of an Estranged Capitalist, soon.)
Homm hasn’t been too specific about who those enemies might be, but his suggestions to the German media have not been the enemies one might expect of a failed hedge fund manager: The Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and Russian mob may be among them, Homm said. He also cites a €1.5 million reward offered by a German private detective earlier this year as veritable contract on his life, and said he now considers his shooting in Colombia in 2006—which he originally thought a robbery attempt—an attempt on his life.
Homm strenuously denies any wrongdoing and has responded to the SEC lawsuit, saying that his actions "were conducted in the good-faith performance of my job, which was to increase the value of the relevant ACMH Funds to the benefit of the ACMH Funds' investors." And while he wouldn't go too deeply into the case, referring questions to his lawyer, who he added always knew how to contact him during his disappearing years, he did say, "I do truly apologize to the people who lost money," The Wall Street Journal, which conducted a telephone interview with Homm, reports.
So where has Homm been? In the country that nearly killed him. Homm said he has spent most of the past five years in Cartagena, Colombia; "most people are trying to take things out of Colombia, not the other way around," he told the Journal, saying the country is easy to move large amounts of cash into. And he did just that: While his personal fortune has dwindled from the hundreds of millions of dollars to less than $10 million, he writes that shortly after he resigned from ACM as it collapsed, he stuffed his underwear full of cash and flew on a private jet from Mallorca, Spain, where he owned a home, to Colombia. He also says he spent a year-and-a-half travelling the globe, staying in cheap hotels.
Homm blames some of his financial misfortune on investments with Bernard Madoff.
"Madoff!" he writes. "Irony can sometimes be brutally vengeful."
Why did he leave? While acknowledging his fear for his own life played a role, Homm says it was primarily a flight for "distance and solitude to find meaning in his life." And while he says his old life was "intense" and "vastly entertaining," he now says that he is focused on prayer and philanthropy, and admits that he regrets his lack of scruples, his behavior and his distant relationship with his children.
"I think my story is really a hard-core wake-up call," Homm told the Journal. "I'd like to reach the few souls who are trying to get a second Mercedes and a bigger boat. I went to the utmost level of excess and it didn't work."
Homm said the proceeds from his book will be donated to Liberian schoolchildren.
Homm is now back in hiding, living under an assumed name in an unidentified country. Even his brief resurfacing was not exactly a public coming-out: One German journalist who met him in Paris had to follow strict, spy-movie like instructions, including travelling to the French capital alone and scurrying between hotels with a Homm aide, before being subjected to a metal-detector search.