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Jurors to Be Chosen in Bill Hwang’s Trial Over Archegos Collapse

Jurors to Be Chosen in Bill Hwang's Trial Over Archegos Collapse

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jury selection is expected to wrap up Thursday in the criminal racketeering trial of Sung Kook “Bill” Hwang over the 2021 collapse of his $36 billion fund Archegos Capital Management, setting the stage for opening statements and witness testimony next week.

Prosecutors, Hwang’s lawyers and U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein will have a chance to question potential jurors in Manhattan federal court about their backgrounds and potential biases, a process known as voir dire. Twelve jurors and four alternate jurors will ultimately be chosen.

The potential jurors were already screened Wednesday to make sure they can serve the full length of the trial, which could last up to eight weeks.

The trial will delve into the implosion of Hwang’s lightly regulated family investment office Archegos, which prosecutors allege caused more than $100 billion in shareholder losses at companies in its portfolio.

Federal prosecutors accuse Hwang of using financial contracts known as total return swaps to secretly amass outsize stakes in multiple companies without actually holding their stock.

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His positions were so large they eclipsed that of the companies’ largest investors, driving up stock prices, prosecutors say. At its peak, they say, Archegos had $36 billion in assets and $160 billion of exposure to equities.

Falling stock prices in March 2021 triggered margin calls that Archegos was unable to meet. That, in turn, led some banks to dump the stocks backing his swaps, causing big losses for Archegos and its lenders, such as Credit Suisse, now part of UBS, and Nomura Holdings.

Prosecutors claim Hwang and former Archegos Chief Financial Officer Patrick Halligan, who is also on trial, lied about their holdings to sustain their business relationship with global banks.

Hwang and Halligan are charged with racketeering conspiracy. Hwang faces an additional 10 counts of fraud and market manipulation, and Halligan an additional two counts of fraud. Each count carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years.

The two men have pleaded not guilty and are expected to argue prosecutors are pushing a novel and nonsensical market manipulation theory.

Hwang’s lawyers have described the case as the “most aggressive open market manipulation case ever” brought by prosecutors. Several attorneys told Reuters it may be a tough case for the government.

Archegos head trader William Tomita and Chief Risk Officer Scott Becker have pleaded guilty to related charges and are expected to testify at the trial.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Michael Erman)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.

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