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Hermes in clear; Clements runs hedge fund

GLOBAL - It's emerged that Robert Clements, the former Hermes manager at the centre of the firm's now resolved stock manipulation allegations in Korea, is now running an Israel-based hedge fund.

Hermes Pensions Management, the asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, said today it has been cleared by the South Korean authorities.

A court found no evidence that Hermes had artificially manipulated Samsung stock prices with comments made by Clements in an interview.

"This matter has been the subject of a lengthy and detailed investigation and Hermes is delighted that after a fair and thorough examination of the facts, the Court has returned a not guilty verdict", Hermes commented.

Hermes, with around £63bn in assets under management, had invested over £300m in Korea.

It said: "Hermes has been a long term investor in Korea for more than a decade and looks forward to continuing to support Korean companies in the future."

Clements, 38, left Hermes in April 2005 amid reports over disagreements personal share dealing rules.

In July 2005, he founded Great Eastern Asset Management (GEAM) which is currently running a hedge fund for the Israeli investment house Excellence Nessuah.

GEAM has both an office in Tel Aviv and an address in the Cayman Islands. The Great Eastern Absolute Return Global Emerging Markets Fund, aimed at foreign institutional investors, was launched in September 2005 and Clements emigrated to Israel to run the fund.

Among the $13.8m fund's top 10 exposures are in Taiwan, South Korea, Chile and Thailand, with Korea having the strongest share in the currency exposure of the fund.

It is listed on the Irish stock exchange and is run from Israel, with UBS as its prime broker. At launch the aim was to accrue $120m by year-end.

In November 2004, Clements was quoted by a Korean newspaper saying that Hermes would support a foreign takeover of Samsung if the company did not improve its corporate governance.

After the interview Samsung shares peaked. Once they had gone down to pre-interview level again Hermes sold all of its 5% stake in the company. Nevertheless, Korean authorities indicted Hermes and Clements. Both later stated that the fund manager has been misquoted.

The warrants were issued at the beginning of 2006. Had Hermes been convicted it would have faced a €6m fine. The case against Clements was dropped soon afterwards as he could not be extradited.

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