For Once, Guy Claiming Religious Discrimination May Be On To Something

Emmanuel Lemelson has two jobs: as a priest and a short-selling hedge fund manager. These may seem incongruous but are actually connected, insofar as Lemelson claims his success in the latter is thanks to the tips he gets from his good buddy God. (To his credit, Lemelson is quick to dismiss the cliché about the humility of those in holy orders, at least in his own case.) Lemelson’s claims to the power of prophecy, however, have been called into question, both by his failure to foresee the SEC investigation into him (going so far as to say “there is now now, nor has there ever been” one, “nor is there basis for one,” going on to sue Bloomberg for saying it two years before the investigation he should have foreseen resulting in an SEC complaint against him) and by the SEC’s allegations that the success had less to do with a hotline to heaven than with Lemelson’s short-and-distort campaign against Ligand Phamaceuticals.

In response, Lemelson cried religious persecution, and while we’re not generally disposed to believe such claims, the good father may have a point here. For an array of unholy forces—from a Dan Loeb-renovated pharmaceutical company to the brother of Trump impeachment counsel Pam Bondi to the now-disgraced Duncan Hunter—do seem to have conspired to convince the SEC to bring what must be said it a highly unusual market manipulation case.

The fund manager aired his views in his own name and then held his short position for months afterward—rather than publishing pseudonymously and quickly exiting a short term trade…. “[N]ever before has the Commission brought a short-and-distort case against an individual based on opinion commentary,” wrote Lemelson’s lawyer Douglas Brooks of the Boston firm LibbyHoopes, in his successful demand to depose SEC enforcement lawyers. “This enforcement action represents a brazen attack on, and an unprecedented violation of, [Father] Emmanuel’s free speech rights.”

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