FBI File: Renaissance Technologies
Right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer – until recently, a huge donor/investor/funder of Steve Bannon, Breitbart, Milo, John Bolton’s PAC, Cambridge Analytica, Brexit, and Trump himself – made his fortune at Renaissance Technologies, perhaps the most successful hedge-fund firm in history, whose Medallion Fund yields a staggering rate of return. Bloomberg called Renaissance “a moneymaking machine like no other.” Thing is, the Medallion Fund is open only to employees and executives of Renaissance Technologies. Anyone else who wants in on the action has to invest in different, less spectacular funds.
Mercer, then a computer scientist at IBM, joined Renaissance in 1993, eventually becoming co-CEO and a Member of the Board. He stepped down on the first day of 2018, apparently because his raining money on the alt-right was bad for Renaissance’s image. (However, he’s not truly out of the picture. The New York Times reports: “In letters to investors and to Renaissance staff on Thursday morning, Mr. Mercer said he would step down as co-chief executive and as a board member on Jan. 1 . He said he would remain involved with the research arm of Renaissance, which uses complex mathematical equations to create trading strategies.”)
I asked the FBI for the company’s file under the Freedom of Information Act. I was quickly sent 54 pre-processed pages.
In the first two pages, we see that Renaissance Technologies was the subject of a federal investigation from March 2009 to January 2011. The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York asked the FBI to investigate allegations that the company “fraudulently” favored the Medallion Fund, to the detriment of the other fund(s). In early 2011, the FBI agent in charge presented their findings to the Assistant US Attorney, who concluded that “the conduct investigated related to Renaissance Technologies doesn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct.” The agent then requested that their superiors close the case, and a handwritten note on the second page indicates that the investigation was closed four days later.
I don’t believe that this has ever been reported by the media. The IRS and the Senate have looked into RenTech’s tax-payment practices, which has been reported, but I can’t find anything about this FBI investigation into allegations of fraud.
(The rest of the file is about a company that has beef with “Renaissance Technologies” over a transaction involving prepaid phone cards. It’s obvious that this isn’t the actual Renaissance Technologies; apparently someone was pretending to do business under that name using a phony address as well.)