The multimillionaire hedge fund manager Crispin Odey has been found not guilty of an “octopus”-like assault against a junior female banker at his London home.
The 62-year-old father-of-three was accused of lunging at the woman after inviting her to his house in Chelsea following a work meeting in 1998, while his pregnant wife was away. Prosecutors alleged that Odey had showered and put on a robe before putting his hand down her shirt and up her skirt during the incident.
Odey, who was 39 at the time of the alleged assault, nodded briefly at the district judge on Thursday after being read the verdict, which found him not guilty of one count of indecent assault. While the hedge fund manager admitted he raised the possibility of sleeping with the woman, then in her mid-20s, he denied the charge.
District judge Nicholas Rimmer said there were “inconsistencies” in the woman’s account of the incident.
Returning his verdict at Westminster magistrates court on Thursday, Rimmer said: “I am left unsure of [the complainant’s account] because despite the strength of her emotion and tears, her credibility has been thrown into question and her evidence is riddled with troubling inconsistencies.”
He added: “Where there is any doubt in a criminal case, given the high standard of proof, it must be resolved in favour of the defendant. I cannot dismiss the possibility that no more than your unwanted verbal advance or proposition to the complainant occurred on the evening in question.”
Giving evidence in his defence, Odey admitted he propositioned the woman after she asked where “this is going to end”, by replying: “If you’re lucky, it might end up in the bed.” However, he has denied any physical contact with the woman.
Under cross examination in February, the complainant said she was groped in a “octopussy-type manoeuvre”. She sent an email to Odey in 2013 about the incident, in which she referred to him as a “sleazy, deceitful man who likes to prey on the innocence of young women”.
The complainant went to the police in 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The Tory donor and founder of Odey Asset Management has accused the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, of “exaggerating, massively” in her account of what happened.
Odey is known for earning £28m after successfully predicting the 2008 credit crunch, and for donating over £870,000 to pro-leave groups before the Brexit campaign. He placed huge bets against the pound and government bonds in the runup to the EU referendum and made an estimated £220m profit when the pound collapsed following the leave victory.
He stepped down from Odey Asset Management, the company he founded in 1991, in November, saying he would focus on managing his own funds.