NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday set a 2024 trial date for former Allianz (ETR::SE) CEO Gregoire Tornant, complicating allegations that he defrauded investors of billions of dollars by downplaying the risks of what they bought.
Tornant, the former chief investment officer who created and oversaw Allianz’s Alpha Composite Structure Funds, was indicted in May on charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction, and has pleaded not guilty.
The funds once had more than $11 billion in assets under management, but lost more than $7 billion as markets were affected by COVID-19 in February and March 2020.
Allianz agreed to pay more than $6 billion in a settlement with US authorities in May, and the German company’s US asset management unit pleaded guilty to securities fraud.
Chief Justice Laura Taylor Swain of Manhattan Federal Court set Tornant’s trial for February 5, 2024, rejecting his attorney’s argument that it was too early to set a date.
Seth Levine, Tournant’s attorney, said he would seek to dismiss the case because the plaintiffs obtained information from Tournant’s former attorney, who also represented Allianz, that should have been withheld based on attorney-client privilege.
Authorities had accused Allianz’s US unit, Allianz Global Investors USL, of misleading pension funds and of having “significant loopholes” in their oversight.
Investors were told that the funds used options include hedges to protect against a market crash, but the plaintiffs said fund managers repeatedly failed to buy out those hedges.
The conviction included a 10-year ban on Allianz Global Investors from providing advisory services to US-registered investment funds.
Allianz then transferred about $120 billion in investor assets to Voya Financial (NYSE: Inc) in exchange for a 24% stake in the Voya asset management business.