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Press Release

Allianz Global Investors U.S. Sentenced In Connection With Multibillion-Dollar Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC Sentenced After Guilty Plea to Securities Fraud

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC (“AGI”) was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon for a multi-year securities fraud involving a series of private investment funds managed by AGI.  Those funds ultimately collapsed, leading to billions of dollars of investor losses.  AGI previously pled guilty to one count of securities fraud. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Telling the truth to investors is the core duty of an investment adviser.  AGI violated that central tenet and deceived investors by materially understating the risk to which their assets were exposed.  This Office and our law enforcement partners will be relentless in protecting investors, and this sentence should send a message to the industry: companies will be held responsible when they fail to implement safeguards and ensure that they uphold their duties to investors.”

According to court filings and statements made in court proceedings:

From at least in or about 2014 up through and including at least in or about March 2020, AGI, an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), headquartered in New York City, and an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Allianz SE – one of the world’s largest financial services companies and one of the world’s largest insurance companies – engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in multiple private funds within AGI’s “Structured Alpha Funds.”  The Structured Alpha Funds (the “Funds”) were among the most profitable groups of funds AGI managed and, at their height, held over $11 billion in assets under management.  The Funds employed a complex options trading strategy that sought to provide investors with guaranteed returns, while managing risk.  AGI deceived the Funds and their investors by understating the risk to which investors’ assets were exposed, and therefore how the returns they touted were actually generated.

In particular, in order to generate the Funds’ positive returns and attract and retain capital, AGI fraudulently misled investors regarding the risk taken on by the funds.  Among other things, AGI misrepresented the hedging and other risk-mitigation strategies that were undertaken to protect investor funds.  Investors also received documents altered to hide the riskiness of the Funds’ investments.  Instead of managing the Funds as promised to investors, AGI deployed an investment strategy that prioritized returns over risk management in ways that were fundamentally inconsistent with representations made to investors.  As a result of this scheme to defraud, investors’ funds were exposed to higher risk than promised, and investors were deprived of information about the true risks to which their investments were exposed. 

After the market dislocations following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (the “COVID Crash”) in March 2020, the Funds lost in excess of $8 billion in market value and $3 billion in principal, faced margin calls and redemption requests, and ultimately were shut down.  More than 100 investors were victims of this scheme, including, among others, pension funds for teachers, religious organizations, bus drivers, engineers, and other individuals, universities, and charitable organizations.

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AGI was sentenced to financial penalties comprised of over $463 million in forfeiture, over $3.23 billion in restitution, and over $2.33 billion in fines.  These amounts include restitution to the victims, the forfeiture of proceeds traceable to the fraud, and the forfeiture by AGI’s corporate parent of the dividends that were paid from AGI to its corporate parent that are traceable to the fraud.  AGI has paid these financial penalties in full and has compensated victims of the conduct through settlements in civil litigation filed against AGI in an aggregate amount of over $5 billion.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Mr. Williams further thanked the SEC, which is pursuing parallel civil actions.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Folly, Margaret Graham, and Allison Nichols are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated July 12, 2023

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-246