Multi-millionaire hedge fund manager Crispin Odey was today cleared of indecently assaulting a young female banker he had invited to his home 23 years ago.
The 62-year-old, who is worth an estimated £823million, was accused of indecently assaulting the woman after inviting her back to his house while his wife was away.
But today he walked free after a District Judge ruled that the case against him was unproven.
Odey, then 39 and the boss of his own successful city firm Odey Asset Management, had invited the 26-year-old woman to his home in Chelsea, for a business meeting.
She had gone along thinking it would, ‘further her career’.
The hedge fund boss, an arch Brexiteer and Tory donor, admitted propositioning the woman, but denied touching her.
Speaking for the first time about the claims as he gave evidence at his trial, the businessman admitted that the episode had put a strain on his 30-year marriage.
Crispin Odey, 62, pictured clutching the hand of his wife as he arrived at court today. The hedge fund boss is accused of indecently assaulting a woman in 1998
Mr Odey pictured in 1995. Recalling the evening, the financier said he invited the ‘attractive and clever’ woman to his home in Chelsea, West London, after meeting her at his office
Married hedge fund manager Crispin Odey (arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, today) was cleared of indecently assaulting a female junior banker, then 26, in 1998
Who is Crispin Odey? The Brexit backing multi millionaire financier said to be worth £823m
Harrow-educated Odey, known for his two bottles of wine lunches, carved out a reputation in the heady days of the 1990s as one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the world.
He had originally planned a legal career after leaving Oxford University until he discovered that his father had mismanaged the family finances and run up huge debts.
In 1980, the Odeys were forced to sell the family home, Holtham Hall, together with its 4,000 acre estate, something that had been theirs since the 17th Century.
In an interview, Odey, who is descended from a line of Yorkshire industrialists and whose grandfather was a Tory MP, described his father as a ‘wastrel’ who survived on ‘handouts’.
After the family estate was sold, Odey began working for Barings International before setting up his own asset management company in 1991.
International financier George Soros invested over £100m in the start-up fund and it thrived when Odey correctly predicted the value of insurers would rise after the September 11th attacks.
He made further gains from predicting the 2008 financial crisis and became a Tory Party donor and a firm backer of Brexit.
He was criticised after boasting he had made £220m predicting that markets would fall after Leave won.
His fortune, together with that of his wife, also a fund manager, is now said to be £823 million. The couple, who have three children, have been dubbed the ‘Posh and Becks’ of the City.
Pease is Odey’s second wife as he had a brief marriage to Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence in the 1980s.
The family divide their time between a £6m pad in Chelsea and a grade II listed mansion on an estate overlooking the Forest of Dean in Gloucester.
At his country seat of Eastbach Court near the village of Coleford, Odey had a £150,000 chicken coop, dubbed ‘Cluckingham Palace’, built in the style of a Greek temple to house his collection of 20 birds.
Mr Odey, who is one of the UK’s best-known hedge fund managers, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that intimacy with the woman was on his mind if she had reciprocated his advances.
He said: ‘It might have been at the back of my mind. It was not at the front of my mind.’
Asked by his defence barrister Crispin Aylett QC if he had forced himself on the woman, Mr Odey replied: ‘Absolutely not’.
Mr Odey, who was married with children at the time, admitted that he had propositioned her at the meeting.
He conceded that he had ‘made a pass’ at the woman during the incident in 1998 when he was aged 39.
But he denied her claims that he had ‘acted like an octopus’ by putting his hands down her shirt and up her skirt before she fled the scene.
His acquittal adds to the controversy of the police pursuing high profile men for offences committed decades earlier.
Recalling the evening, Mr Odey said he invited the ‘attractive and clever’ woman to his home in Chelsea, West London, after meeting her at his office.
He said: ‘The atmosphere was jovial and suddenly she said why are you being so nice to me. Where do you think this is all going to end?
‘I am ashamed to say I said ‘If I am lucky in bed’.
Mr Odey said after making the suggestive remark, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, became very angry.
‘I had totally misunderstood the question. She got up and I tried to apologise. She walked downstairs and I let her out. I had made a pass and apologised,’ he said.
Mr Odey said he had not told his wife about the incident but since his arrest and having to admit propositioning the woman had put his 30 year marriage ‘under great strain.’
‘It has put the marriage under great strain,’ he said and added that he had to tell his three children.
The Chelsea property where the woman had claimed she was assaulted more than 20 years ago. Odey conceded that he had ‘made a pass’ at the woman during the incident when he was aged 39
At his country seat of Eastbach Court (pictured) near the village of Coleford, Odey had a £150,000 chicken coop, dubbed ‘Cluckingham Palace’, built in the style of a Greek temple
Newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch, right, with his daughter Prudence, 26, center, and new son-in-law Crispin Odey, when the couple were married at St. Michael’s Church, London, 1985
The woman met with ‘high-profile’ Odey (pictured in 1997) at Odey Asset Management, the company he founded in 1991
Odey’s fortune (left, in 2003), together with that of his wife, Nichola Pease (right) also a fund manager, is now said to be £823 million
His wife Nichola was in court as he husband gave his evidence.
Mr Odey said the sex assault accusation had put a great strain on his life and last year he had stepped down as Chief Executive of his firm, Odey Asset Management.
His accuser, who cannot be identified, has claimed in her evidence that Odey groped her ‘like an octopus’.
She claimed that he had tried to push his hand down the front of her shirt and shove his hand up her skirt.
At a previous hearing the woman, now in her late 40s, broke down in tears while giving evidence via video link from her home overseas.
She told the court Odey had lunged at her with his hands all over her ‘like an octopus.’
The 62-year-old Hedge fund manager Odey walked free after a District Judge ruled that the case against him was unproven. Pictured: Arriving at Hendon Magistrates’ Court with wife Nichola Pease on February 17
Mr Odey pictured arriving at court today. Asked by his defence barrister if he had forced himself on the woman, Mr Odey replied: ‘Absolutely not’
The woman complained to the bank, but was allegedly told to drop the matter or her career would suffer.
After watching TV news reports of the #MeToo movement and arrest of movie producer Harvey Weinstein she made a complaint to the police where she lives in 2017 which was forwarded to the Met Police via Interpol.
She had previously sent an email to Odey in 2013 where she described him as ‘sleazy’.
Under cross examination by prosecutor Kerry Broome Mr Odey said his accusers had exaggerated what took place and denied assaulting her.
‘I am an innocent man here,’ said Mr Odey.
He had arrived at the court clutching the hand of his wife who is also a successful City investment manager.