SEC Charges Allianz Global Investors and Three Former Senior Portfolio Managers with Multibillion Dollar Securities Fraud

Link: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-84

Excerpt:

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that Structured Alpha’s Lead Portfolio Manager, Gregoire P. Tournant, orchestrated the multi-year scheme to mislead investors who invested approximately $11 billion in Structured Alpha, and paid the defendants over $550 million in fees. It further alleges that, with assistance from Co-Lead Portfolio Manager, Trevor L. Taylor, and Portfolio Manager, Stephen G. Bond-Nelson, Tournant manipulated numerous financial reports and other information provided to investors to conceal the magnitude of Structured Alpha’s true risk and the funds’ actual performance. 

Defendants reduced losses under a market crash scenario in one risk report sent to investors from negative 42.1505489755747% to negative 4.1505489755747% — by simply dropping the single digit 2.  In another example, defendants “smoothed” performance data sent to investors by reducing losses on one day from negative 18.2607085709004% to negative 9.2607085709004% — this time by cutting the number 18 in half.    

Publication Date: 17 May 2022

Publication Site: SEC

Architect of Allianz fraud made $60 mln as he lied to investors, U.S. says

Link: https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/architect-allianz-fraud-made-60-mln-he-lied-investors-us-says-2022-05-17/

Excerpt:

The star portfolio manager at the centre of a fraud at the U.S. funds unit of Allianz SE (ALVG.DE) relied on the German insurer’s good name to lure investors and thrived from a lack of oversight as he pocketed $60 million in pay, U.S. authorities said.

Gregoire “Greg” Tournant, a citizen of France and the United States, was indicted on Tuesday for securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice in a scheme that ran from 2014 to 2020. read more

It was a major development in a two-year saga that has haunted and embarrassed Allianz, one of the globe’s biggest financial firms, and began after the $11 billion in funds managed by Tournant collapsed as markets roiled with the outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020.

U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday said Tournant faked documents, fabricated risk reports, altered spreadsheets, and lied about the investment strategy.

Author(s): Tom Sims, Alexander Hübner and John O’Donnell

Publication Date: 18 May 2022

Publication Site: Reuters

Microsoft Excel: The Program’s Designer Reveals The Secrets Behind The Software That Changed the World 25 Years Ago

Link:https://www.thedailybeast.com/microsoft-excel-the-programs-designer-reveals-the-secrets-behind-the-software-that-changed-the-world-25-years-ago

Excerpt:

In a year when big names from the digital realm profoundly affected the world—Mark Zuckerberg or Julian Assange, take your pick—it’s appropriate to add one more: Douglas Klunder. While largely unnoticed, 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of perhaps the most revolutionary software program ever, Microsoft Excel, and Klunder, now an unassuming attorney and privacy activist for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state, gave it to us.

…..

For Doug Klunder, the mission 25 years ago wasn’t so grandiose. As lead developer of Excel, he was handed the job of vaulting Microsoft—then known best for MS-DOS, the operating system in IBM’s PCs—to the forefront in business applications. “We decided it was time to do a new, better spreadsheet,” recalls Klunder, now 50, who joined Microsoft straight out of MIT in 1981 (part of the interview process included lunch with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer at a Shakey’s pizza parlor).

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Klunder and his team came up with “intelligent recalc,” an approach where the program updated only the cells affected by the data change rather than all the formulas in the spreadsheet. Klunder credits Gates with the idea for how to implement the feature—though he says Gates eventually told him he hadn’t implemented what he had in mind at all. Klunder thinks Gates misremembered the discussion, but adds, “Maybe he actually did have a more brilliant idea that now is lost forever.”

Author(s):Thomas E. Weber

Publication Date:14 July 2017 (originally published 2010)

Publication Site: Daily Beast

Several Ways to Improve Your Use of Excel for Actuarial Production

Link: https://www.soa.org/sections/small-insurance/small-insurance-newsletter/2021/june/stn-2021-06-mathys/

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Excerpt:

Create a Consistent Structure for Calculations

When spreadsheets are created ad-hoc, the usage of time steps tends to be inconsistent: advancing by rows in one sheet, columns in another, and even a mix of the two in the same sheet. Sometimes steps will be weeks, other times months, quarters, or years. This is confusing for users and reviewers, leads to low trust, increases the time for updates and audits, and adds to the risks of the spreadsheet.

A better way is to make all calculations follow a consistent layout, either across rows or columns, and use that layout for all calculations, regardless if it requires a few more rows or columns. For example, one way to make calculations consistent is with time steps going across the columns and each individual calculation going down the rows:

Author(s): Stephan Mathys

Publication Date: June 2021

Publication Site: Small Talk at the Society of Actuaries

Cell Maps – Critical Comments

Link: https://logiccomppeople.blogspot.com/2021/04/cell-maps-critical-comments.html

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Excerpt:

Cell maps are intended as tools for reviewing spreadsheets. If you spot an error or an inconsistency in the cell map this should be recorded and, if practicable, corrected.

The cell mapping software provides a method for recording a reviewer’s comments. All comments are linked to a specific map (or data table), The comments for a workbook under review are collated in a single worksheet.

Publication Date: 18 April 2021

Publication Site: Logic, Computing, and People

Huge vaccine error: 9,000 patients were forgotten

Link: https://stiften.dk/artikel/k%C3%A6mpe-vaccinefejl-9-000-patienter-blev-glemt

Excerpt (via Google Translate):

Jørgen Schøler Kristensen, Medical Director at Aarhus University Hospital, explains the error as follows:

– When patients with a civil registration number beginning with 0 had to be entered, the civil registration number was declared invalid if a hyphen was missing. So 26 percent of the civil registration numbers we have reported have not been entered correctly, so they have not received the invitation in their e-box to be vaccinated as they should have had, says Jørgen Schøler Kristensen.

Patients born the first nine days of any month and having been unlucky with a hyphen were forgotten.

Additional:

Author(s): Jens Christian Thaysen

Publication Date: 19 March 2021

Publication Site: Århus Stiftstidende

The Biggest Business Fails of All Time

Link: https://moneywise.com/a/the-biggest-business-fails-of-all-time

Excerpt:

3. Spreadsheet error costs JPMorgan $3.1 billion

You might recall the “London Whale” incident in 2012, when notorious trader Bruno Iksil — whose other monikers include the White Whale and even Voldemort — conducted a series of credit default swaps that cost JPMorgan Chase $6.2 billion.

What you might not know, however, is that half the loss was incurred by a simple Excel spreadsheet error.

Bloomberg reports that the Excel model, which relied heavily on copy and pasting of information, accidentally “underestimated risk by half.”

Author(s): Serah Louis

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: MoneyWise

Improving on perfection — where next for the spreadsheet?

Link: https://medium.com/dawn-capital/improving-on-perfection-where-next-for-the-spreadsheet-7e15c99e7e5c

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Excerpt:

The sheer versatility and accessibility of the spreadsheet has made it the Swiss Army Knife of modern day productivity, inserting itself into almost every workflow across every industry. Over the past three decades, spreadsheets have become the de facto way for information to be collected, distributed and analysed.

But, as our operational and computational needs become ever greater, the limits of Excel become clear, and opportunities emerge for companies and tools to replace the spreadsheet.

Author(s): Dawn Capital

Publication Date: 16 December 2021

Publication Site: Medium

Employers make the Canada Revenue Agency mistakes

Link: https://www.vaughantoday.ca/employers-make-the-canada-revenue-agency-mistakes/

Excerpt:

The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) presented a spreadsheet of Canada Emergency Wage Support (CUSS) that was riddled with errors and cut some business subsidies in half.

To qualify for SSUC – which has so far helped nearly 400,000 companies with grants totaling $ 59 billion – employers must fill out “spreadsheets”: Excel spreadsheets that ARC has been offering on its website since March 15th.

However, the spreadsheet available to companies for payment periods from July 5 to August 29 contained several major errors until last Friday, nine days before the deadline for grant applications.

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This mistake had the effect of drastically reducing support for businesses, but only for some owners and their families. It only exists in the French version of the spreadsheet.

Author: Alan Binder

Publication Date: 25 January 2021

Publication Site: Vaughan Today