A multi-billionaire, who’s a trustee at Fuller Seminary and has given millions to Christian ministries and schools, has lost his fortune in a matter of days and now is at the center of a major Wall Street fiasco.
Bill Hwang, founder and co-CEO of Archegos Capital Management, quietly built a multibillion-dollar empire using derivatives—risky investments that speculate on which direction the market will go.
Last week, the market turned in the opposite direction from how Hwang had bet. And now Hwang is at the center of what Bloomberg calls “one of the biggest margin calls of all time—a multibillion-dollar fiasco involving secretive market bets that were dangerously leveraged and unwound in a blink.”
According to Bloomberg, Hwang’s portfolio was worth at least $10 billion. But Hwang reportedly leveraged as much as $50 billion, or even more than $100 billion.
Last week, Hwang defaulted on margin calls, which triggered a fire sale of stocks, according to sources who spoke to Reuters.
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Speaking of Hwang’s losses, Mike Novogratz, a career macro investor told Bloomberg: “I’ve never seen anything like this—how quiet it was, how concentrated, and how fast it disappeared. . . . This has to be one of the single greatest losses of personal wealth in history.”
Breaking their silence late Monday, Archegos said through its spokesperson Karen Kessler: “This is a challenging time for the family office of Archegos Capital Management, our partners and employees. All plans are being discussed as Mr. Hwang and the team determine the best path forward.”
Though Hwang, the son of a Korean pastor, billed his investment firm as an outgrowth of his Christian faith, Hwang has history of illegal trading.
In 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Hwang with making $16.7 million in illicit profits through trading schemes involving Chinese bank stocks. To settle those charges, Hwang and his firms agreed to pay $44 million.
Hwang then turned his hedge fund business, called Tiger Asia Management, into a family office, and launched Archegos Capital Management.
In a promotional video for Fuller Seminary posted in 2018, Hwang said his Christian faith guided his investment strategy at Archegos.
“We see how God is leading the whole world, and human race, through these companies . . . ” Hwang said. “I’m like a little child looking for, ‘What can I do today, where can I invest to please our God? You remember Jesus saying, ‘My Father is working therefore I am working?’ So, God is working. Jesus is working. And I’m working.”
The Roys Report reached out to Fuller Seminary for comment about Hwang, but the seminary did not immediately respond.
Hwang and his wife, Becky, also ran a foundation, called the Grace and Mercy Foundation, which gave away millions annually to dozens of Christian ministries, including Fuller Seminary, The King’s College, International Justice Mission, Museum of the Bible, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Given Hwang’s history of wrongdoing, many in the business world are asking how Hwang was allowed to risk so much money without being stopped by the Securities and Exchange Commission or regulators around the world.
One possible answer is that Hwang established his business as a family office. These offices don’t normally have to disclose their owners, executives, or how much they manage to the SEC. Hwang also used to derivatives to gain large stakes in companies, which also allowed him to avoid disclosure.