Crispin Odey, one of the UK’s best-known hedge fund managers, left a female junior banker feeling “shocked and scared” after he “lunged” at her and touched her breast, a court heard on Wednesday.
Odey, 62, founder of Mayfair-based Odey Asset Management, is accused of indecent assault in 1998 against the junior employee at an investment bank.
Hendon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday heard that Odey attempted a “moving grope” on her at his home in Swan Walk, Chelsea in the summer 1998, before she left.
Odey, who was charged in July, denies the allegation. He appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court in September to plead not guilty to the charge.
The alleged victim attended a meeting in summer 1998 at Odey Asset Management with Odey, who was an important client of the bank. He invited her to return after work to help her “understand valuation”, she said in a video interview with police in 2018 that was shown to the court on Wednesday.
Odey suggested they go to the pub, but as that was crowded with people spilling out on to the street he suggested going to his house and hailed a taxi, the court heard. The alleged victim had expected Odey’s wife, Nichola Pease, to be there but the house was empty.
Odey went off to change and “returned wearing a robe, having obviously showered”, prosecutor Kerry Broome said.
“He’d had a shower and that’s when I thought, ‘oh, shit’,” the alleged victim said in the recorded interview.
Odey then “lunged” at the woman and put his hand on her breast and down her shirt, said Broome. He also put his other hand on her back and put a hand up her skirt, it is alleged.
“I just remember the fear,” the woman said in her video interview. “He just saw me as a thing, not a person, just a pretty thing he wanted.”
“She was shocked and scared,” said Broome, adding that the alleged victim wrestled herself free and left.
The alleged victim emailed Odey in 2013 to set out the basis of her complaint. She reported it to police in 2017 and gave a statement in 2018, which was played to the court on Wednesday.
Odey’s lawyer on Wednesday disputed the alleged victim’s recollection of events, arguing that the alleged victim went straight to Odey’s house “under your own steam”.
Unlike many of his lower-profile peers, Oxford-educated Odey has frequently been in the headlines. A vocal Brexit supporter, he is a donor to the Conservative party and contributed to prime minister Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. In 2019 he dismissed as “crap” suggestions that he had backed Johnson in order to profit from a possible no-deal Brexit.
Along with his wife, he has an estimated fortune of £825m, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Odey made large gains from bets against some UK stocks and a bet on gold at the time of the 2016 Brexit referendum, but ultimately finished that year down almost 50 per cent.
In November the Financial Times reported that Odey had stepped down from the helm of the eponymous investment firm he founded three decades ago, and would focus on managing his own funds.
Odey’s European fund lost about 30 per cent last year but has been one of the top performers this year, gaining roughly 22 per cent, according to investors.
The trial continues.