Hedge Fund Dispute Over Fees Centers on Secretly Taped Talks

A dispute over the payment of fees from London hedge fund Astra Asset Management centers on a series of secretly recorded conversations that the fund asked a judge to ignore.

Anish Mathur, a former Deutsche Bank AG trader, is fighting allegations in a London lawsuit that he stopped payments to a one-time business partner and his wife who introduced him to early clients at Astra. The couple, Saleem Siddiqi and Alexandra Galligan, say that they recorded a series of conversations in the summer of 2016 as their relationship with Mathur deteriorated.

The trial is focusing on the events leading up to the founding of the London hedge fund, which was discussing a $1 billion valuation, as well as the increasingly bitter fallout stemming from the dispute. Siddiqi and Galligan say they lost out on at least 10 million pounds ($13.9 million) in fees, while Mathur says there was no contract for the payments.

While Judge Clive Freedman has said he will listen to the recordings, Astra has argued that they should be excluded from the case. The conversations are legally privileged and some are incomplete, Astra’s lawyer Christopher Boardman said.

Siddiqi and Galligan “had an agenda rendering the conversations unnatural ones,” Boardman said in a legal filing for the trial.

Mathur left Deutsche Bank in 2012 to start a fund focusing on credit derivatives -- building on his prior experience at the lender. The couple say they brought in two key investors including LGT Capital Partners, an investment fund ultimately owned by Liechtenstein’s royal family.

The relationship became increasingly contentious in 2016, three years after the first investments, when Mathur told Siddiqi and Galligan that the management fees would end.

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