Hedge Fund Manager Found and Jailed in Fraud
Tom Solo/Picture Alliance, via DPA
FRANKFURT — Florian Homm, a flamboyant former hedge fund manager who spent the last five years in hiding, was arrested in Italy and faces extradition to the United States on securities fraud charges which could expose him to a lengthy prison sentence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
The Italian police arrested Mr. Homm, a 53-year-old German who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, on Friday at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the F.B.I. said. Mr. Homm is accused of defrauding investors of at least $200 million, the F.B.I. said. The most serious of the four felony charges carry maximum sentences of 25 years in prison...
Mr. Homm resigned as head of Absolute Capital in the middle of the night on Sept. 18, 2007. By his own account, he boarded a private plane in Majorca, his Calvin Klein underwear stuffed with cash, and made his way to Colombia, where he lived under an assumed name.
But Mr. Homm said he was never a fugitive. He said he dropped from view because he wanted to find himself, and also because some dubious people with whom he had done business were trying to kill him. Mr. Homm reappeared in November when he gave clandestine media interviews to promote a book he wrote, “Rogue Financier: The Adventures of an Estranged Capitalist.”
The book was intended as a cautionary tale, Mr. Homm said in a November telephone interview. “The pursuit of happiness is not correlated with the pursuit of money,” he said. In the book and interview, Mr. Homm insisted he was no longer the same person who once owned a stake in a Berlin brothel and lived in a $5 million residence on Majorca with a Russian table dancer. He said he prayed daily and was devoting his energy to charity work....
Whenever I hear that someone facing trial has been engaging in good works, I think, aha, he's trying to get the judge to show leniency.
But whenever someone claims that he is not the same person he was before, what I hear is, "I am a sociopath."
This is a frequent theme with sociopaths. They are forever claiming to have turned over a new leaf, to have reformed. And they always seem to expect people to believe them.
But we are who we are. Our actions may change based on circumstance, but our basic psychology -- our reactions, if you will -- remain the same. (It's all pretty much set at a very early age.)
And a sociopath, which is what Mr. Homm would have to be given his extensive history of swindling, has about as much chance of shedding his sociopathy as he has of changing his ethnicity.
The next time you hear someone claim he's a changed man, beware.