Crispin Odey Pleads Not Guilty to Charge of Indecent Assault in London

Crispin Odey pleaded not guilty in a London court to an accusation of groping a young female banking employee after inviting her back to his home more than 20 years ago.

Odey, one of Europe’s highest-profile hedge fund managers, appeared at a London court for the first time Monday since being charged with indecent assault. The 61-year-old faces a trial next year where he will contest the allegation that he took advantage of the woman, who prosecutors say worked at an investment bank that had Odey’s fund as a client.

Odey is alleged to have invited the woman, who was in her 20s, to his Chelsea home. He changed into a dressing gown, only to “launch himself” at her and assault her, Aaron McCalister, a lawyer for the prosecution, said at Westminster Magistrates Court. It was an “abuse of trust” that required a “significant degree of planning,” he said.

The woman said that the impact of the attack was both “immediate and long standing.”

The judges ruled that the trial should be held in a magistrates court in February, which can mean a lesser sentence should he be convicted.

Still, “this allegation is immensely damaging professionally and personally for Mr. Odey,” his lawyer, Crispin Aylett, said.

The allegation is that the assault was “a brief fast moving incident,” Aylett said.

Odey, who attended court with his wife, Nichola Pease, was given bail on the condition that he not contact the complainant.

After the hearing, Odey said in a statement that he was pleased that the magistrates have agreed to “hear this historic matter quickly.”

“I look forward to having the facts heard and maintain the allegation is untrue,” he said.

Odey, a backer of Brexit and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is known for his eye-catching comments and bearish market outlook.

His firm managed about $13 billion in 2015 as one of the largest hedge fund firms in Europe but assets have shrunk since then. His flagship Odey European Inc fund was down 17.7% through August this year after losing 10% in 2019, according to a letter to investors seen by Bloomberg.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected because attorneys misstated the professional relationship between the accuser and Odey.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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