NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday set a 2024 trial date for former Allianz (ETR:) SE executive Gregoire Tournant, citing the complexity of allegations he defrauded investors out of billions of dollars by understating the risks of what they bought.
Tournant, the former chief investment officer who created and oversaw Allianz’s now-defunct Structured Alpha funds, was indicted in May on fraud, conspiracy and obstruction charges and pleaded not guilty.
The funds once had more than $11 billion of assets under management, but lost more than $7 billion as COVID-19 roiled markets in February and March 2020.
Allianz agreed to pay more than $6 billion in a settlement with U.S. authorities in May, and the German company’s U.S. asset management unit pleaded guilty to securities fraud.
Chief Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the Manhattan federal court scheduled Tournant’s trial for Feb. 5, 2024, rejecting his lawyer’s argument that it was premature to schedule a date.
Seth Levine, a lawyer for Tournant, said he will seek to dismiss the case because prosecutors obtained information from Tournant’s former lawyer, who also represented Allianz, that should have been withheld based on attorney-client privilege.
Authorities had accused Aliianz’s U.S. unit, Allianz Global Investors US LLC, of misleading pension funds and having “significant gaps” in its oversight.
Investors were told the funds employed options that included hedges to protect against market crashes, but prosecutors said fund managers repeatedly failed to buy those hedges.
The conviction carried a 10-year ban on Allianz Global Investors providing advisory services to U.S.-registered investment funds.
Allianz subsequently moved about $120 billion of investor assets to Voya Financial (NYSE:) Inc in exchange for a 24% stake in Voya’s asset management business.