‘Octopus’ Tory donor ‘kissed receptionist on top of the head and tried to fondle her breasts’

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey (Bloomberg/Getty)
Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey (Bloomberg/Getty)

Multimillionaire hedge fund manager Crispin Odey has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women who have worked with him.

The Tory donor, a leading figure in London’s financial world, faces shocking allegations that he groped female members of staff and masturbated on a female entrepreneur.

Thirteen women who worked for Odey Asset Management or had dealings with Mr Odey told the Financial Times he had abused or harassed them. Eight of the women allege Mr Odey sexually assaulted them.

Mr Odey was said to be known for hiring “earls and girls” – men educated at Eton and Harrow, with women mainly employed as receptionists and in secretarial positions.

A law firm representing Mr Odey said he “strenuously disputed” the allegations of sexual misconduct, while the hedge fund manager told the FT that the allegations were “rubbish”.

“This is a rehash of an old article and none of the allegations have been stood up in a courtroom or an investigation,” Mr Odey later told Reuters.

The newspaper details a series of alleged incidents between 1998 and 2021, with the women said to be keen to speak out because Mr Odey continues to hold power over young female employees at the company he founded.

One former receptionist claimed Mr Odey had made frequent unwanted physical contact, including massaging her shoulders and kissing the top of her head. She alleges that in July 2004 he tried to forcefully kiss her and attempted to touch her breasts.

In her resignation letter the following month, she told Odey Asset Management that she had received “unrequested sexual attention from Mr Crispin Odey” in the form of “massages, kisses, embraces and crude sexually suggestive comments”.

Crispin Odey outside Hendon Magistrates’ Court in 2021, when he was cleared of indecent assault (Reuters)
Crispin Odey outside Hendon Magistrates’ Court in 2021, when he was cleared of indecent assault (Reuters)

Another woman, an entrepreneur invited to Mr Odey’s London home in March 2013, alleged that he had exposed himself to her before she fled to the toilet.

She told the FT that Mr Odey came into her room after she was invited to stay and assured her that “nothing will happen” before sexually assaulting her. She said: “I don’t remember much else, except I tried to fake something so it would all be over.”

Several former receptionists claimed that unwanted massages were part of his “everyday behaviour”. One said: “You’d tell him to stop, but you can’t just slap him off.”

It was reportedly common for staff to advise women starting at the firm to avoid taking the small office lift alone with the founding partner. The receptionists are said to have nicknamed Mr Odey “the octopus”.

Mr Odey allegedly asked female staff about their sex lives and remarked on their appearance, telling them that their “legs look incredible in that”.

The FT said it had spoken to 40 former employees of Odey Asset Management, including 11 former receptionists who worked there between 2003 and 2021. All but two of the receptionists alleged abusive behaviour by Mr Odey.

Mr Odey has previously been accused of sexual misconduct. In March 2021 he was found not guilty of an indecent assault against a junior female banker at his London home.

Crispin Odey was cleared of indecent assault in March 2021 (Reuters)
Crispin Odey was cleared of indecent assault in March 2021 (Reuters)

Senior executives at the firm were said to have been aware of concerns about Mr Odey’s behaviour, and launched a formal investigation into his conduct in September, carried out by an in-house legal team and an external law firm, Simmons & Simmons.

The firm’s executive committee reportedly held a disciplinary meeting with their founder in January 2021, in which he was told he had behaved inappropriately with female staff and was given a “final written warning”.

The committee also gave its report to the Financial Conduct Authority. Firms are obliged to notify the watchdog of disciplinary action involving senior staff.

After Mr Odey was cleared of indecent assault, the executive committee is said to have started a second investigation into his behaviour in October 2021, before scheduling another disciplinary for December 2021.

But Mr Odey sacked his executive committee and claimed it had received bad legal advice, according to the FT.

Two further allegations of sexual misconduct date from the period after the court case ended in March 2021. One woman said he tried to force his tongue into her mouth and groped her breasts at his house in Gloucestershire in December 2021.

“Without standing up to him, he will do it again and continue doing it,” the woman said. “The number of known assaults is large enough now that we are able to validate each other’s stories, and face him with the confidence needed to stop his vile behaviour continuing.”

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are said to be reviewing their broking relationships with Odey Asset Management following the allegations. The FT reported on Morgan Stanley’s move to cut ties, while a source at JPMorgan told Reuters it was also examining its links to the company.

Asked by Reuters about Morgan Stanley, Mr Odey said: “That is a massively quick reaction to an allegation by the FT.”

The FCA may widen an investigation launched two years ago into Odey Asset Management to consider potential, non-financial misconduct by Mr Odey, according to the FT.

In 2020, Mr Odey stepped back from running the firm he had founded to focus on managing money, but remained its majority shareholder. The firm is now led by chief executive Peter Martin.

Electoral Commission records show that the hedge fund manager – who once employed former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as a consultant – has donated more than £350,000 to the Tories.

Mr Odey’s firm bet against the pound and government bonds in the gilts market in the wake of the turmoil stemming from the mini-Budget. “It’s been helpful,” Mr Odey told the FT on his short position – but he dismissed the idea that he had any kind of trading advantage because Mr Kwarteng had previously worked for his firm.

The law firm representing Mr Odey’s firm declined to comment to the FT on the allegations made by multiple women, citing confidentiality. It said Odey Asset Management has anti-harassment policies, and that it “has, at all times, complied with all of its legal and regulatory obligations”.

The Independent has contacted Mr Odey’s legal representative and Odey Asset Management for comment.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk. If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)