MURKY WATERS

Brexit Pollsters Helped Hedge Funds Make Millions on Referendum Night

Pollsters for the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum sold hedge-fund officials critical advance information that allowed them to earn fortunes by short-selling the British pound, helped by a mysterious “concession” from Brexit leader Nigel Farage—which he may have known was wrong. British election law states that it’s illegal to release any exit-poll data with “any section of the public” before voting ends. Farage, a former broker who worked for a London currency trading company after he moved into politics, told the world on referendum night that Leave had likely lost—when he had information suggesting his side had won, Bloomberg News reports. That public declaration pushed investors toward a cliff edge that some hedge funds, having hired five polling companies, had secretly been warned of. Those hedge funds that hired the pollsters made hundreds of millions of dollars that night, while their industry as a whole was battered by the chaos that Brexit unleashed in global financial markets. One poll that correctly predicted a Leave vote was shared with the hedge funds and Farage before one of his public concessions that night—Bloomberg News states “there was a good chance he was feeding specious sentiment into markets.”