According to the SEC's complaint, however, Mr. Tournant did conduct adequate stress tests. He just lied about them.
From at least January 2016 through March 2020, according to the SEC complaint, Mr. Tournant had consistently misled investors about the strategy's downside risk.
For example, the complaint cites AllianzGI marketing materials claiming that hedging positions included put options that were "laddered for various market outcomes to the downside" with "strike distances from -10% to -25%."
The materials said the hedging positions' primary objective was to protect the strategy from a "short-term equity market crash," which was defined as a decline of 10% to 15% in less than five days.
However, the complaint said the portfolio management team, at Mr. Tournant's discretion, generally purchased cheaper put options with significantly lower strike prices, averaging from -30% to -50%, beginning in February 2018. That same month, according to the complaint, Mr. Tournant and his team began altering risk reports by manually reducing losses in stress-test scenarios.
One such alteration the complaint cites is Mr. Tournant changing actual maximum losses in a stress-test scenario to no more than between 34% and 38% in a scenario that included a 10% negative return in equities and between a 100% and 200% change in the Cboe Volatility index.
However, in March 2020, the largest five-day percentage change in the Cboe Volatility index was 151.7%, greater than the largest five-day change of the VIX of 55% during the global financial crisis in the 2008-2009 period, and it resulted in losses of as much as 90% in the most aggressive Structured Alpha strategies.
Those strategies were the Allianz Structured Alpha 1000 and Allianz Structured Alpha 1000 Plus strategies, which AllianzGI quickly liquidated following the enormous losses. Numerical designations of the Structured Alpha strategies refer to the additional alpha in basis points above an equity index the portfolio is expected to return.
What followed was what the SEC terms as "multiple efforts to conceal their misconduct," which included Mr. Tournant urging Mr. Bond-Nelson to give false testimony, and Mr. Tournant meeting with Mr. Taylor at a vacant construction site to discuss their false risk reports and how to respond to government investigators' questions.
The misconduct and the cover-up for that misconduct not only resulted in SEC charges, but the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York also announced criminal charges for similar conduct against AllianzGI and Messrs. Tournant, Taylor and Bond-Nelson. As part of the parallel criminal proceeding, AllianzGI and Messrs. Taylor and Bond-Nelson have agreed to guilty pleas.
Daniel R. Alonso, partner at Buckley LLP, and Seth L. Levine, co-founder of Levine Lee LLP, co-counsels for Mr. Tournant, said in a joint statement that Mr. Tournant "has been unfairly targeted despite the fact that he was on extended medical leave during these market events, and the funds had thrived under his leadership for the previous 14 years. The losses resulting from these market events were suffered by sophisticated institutional investors — including Greg himself who had a considerable investment in the fund. While the losses are regrettable, they are not the result of any crime."
An Allianz spokesman referred questions to a statement from the company that said the criminal misconduct "was limited to a handful of individuals in the Structured Products Group of AGI U.S. who are no longer employed by the company, and that the DOJ's investigation did not otherwise find any knowledge of, or participation in, the misconduct at Allianz SE or any other entity of the Allianz Group."