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Why Och-Ziff Capital Management Group Stock Is Dropping Today

By Jordan Wathen - Apr 12, 2016 at 11:51AM

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Shares of the hedge fund manager were pummeled as The Wall Street Journal reported that it could face a criminal guilty plea for bribery.

Image source: Wikipedia.

What: Shares of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group (SCU 3.74%) kicked off trading on Tuesday in a free fall, plunging nearly 21% as of 10:50 a.m. ET.

So what: After the market close on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Och-Ziff is facing a possible criminal guilty plea following a Justice Department investigation of bribery. The unnamed sources suggested that regulators may seek damages of up to $400 million from the company for allegedly bribing Libyan officials to encourage their investment in one of its funds.

Last year, the company also came under scrutiny for having made a $100 million loan to the Zimbabwean government in 2008, which was funneled through one of its portfolio companies. In its annual report for 2015, Och-Ziff noted that it was not subject to any legal proceedings that it expected "to have a material impact" on its consolidated financial statements.

To put the potential cost in perspective, a $400 million charge is roughly equal to one-third of its shareholders' equity, last reported to stand at $1.24 billion at the end of December 2015.

Now what: This marks yet another discouraging development from a consistently underperforming asset manager. Separately, the company recently reported in an 8-K filing that its funds lost about $1 billion of fee-earning assets under management in March 2016, despite positive performance from all three of its major strategies. 

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