Jones Day slams SFO as Weavering Capital fraud probe is dropped

The Serious Fraud Office has dropped its two-year long investigation into London-based hedge fund Weavering Capital (UK) prompting complaints from Jones Day which is pursuing a civil fraud case against the hedge fund’s managers.

Barnaby Stueck
Barnaby Stueck

Weavering’s principal Cayman Islands hedge fund the Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund claimed to have $530m under management. It collapsed in March leaving investors, including charities and pension funds, with losses of more than $500m.

The hedge fund had been  under investigation by the SFO since early 2009. However, the agency has now said it would not pursue charges against the funds’ founder and CEO, Magnus Peterson, nor Edward Platt, a senior employee whom it arrested in 2009.

It there was insufficient evidence to secure convictions against the pair and as such dropped its probe.

However, Jones  Day partner Barnaby Stueck, who is leading a civil case against Magnus Peterson and others on behalf of investors, said the decision would raise serious questions about the ability of British prosecutors to pursue fraud cases.

He said: “It has caused investors to raise serious questions about the ability and will of British prosecuting authorities to bring criminal charges in substantial fraud cases, which can only be damaging to the City’s position as a centre of international finance.”

Stueck has instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Robert Anderson QC to lead Tom Richard in a claim for dishonest breach of fiduciary duty against Peterson.  The case is set for a High Court showdown next month, although the defendant is yet to instruct counsel.

Meanwhile, in August the Grand Court Cayman Islands found two of the fund’s directors guilty of wilful neglect or default in the discharge of their duties.

Peterson’s brother and stepfather, Stefan Peterson and Hans Ekstrom, who were directors of the fund were ordered to pay $111m in damages by Justice Andrew Jones QC.

The judge said the pair “never once, in six years, asked any of those whom they were supposedly supervising to give them a written report, or attend a board meeting provide to provide them with an oral report”.

However, The SFO said the Cayman action was a civil case where the burden of proof is lower than it is in a criminal matter. It added that just because a civil action had been successful it did not necessarily follow that criminal charges will be successful.