Bridgewater Associates is swinging back this morning, saying that an article yesterday about one of the world’s largest hedge fund’s was a “distortion of reality.”

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Bridgewater says New York Times reporting is not accurate or well documented

“While we all would hope that we could count on the Times for accurate and well-documented reporting,” Bridgewater said in statement Thursday morning. “Sadly, its article 'Sex, Fear, and Video Surveillance at the World's Largest Hedge Fund' doesn’t meet that standard.”

A New York Times article by Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein yesterday told the story of Christopher Tarui, 34, who accused a male manager of sexual harassment. The article cited public documentation from a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

Over the course of a year, Tarui said he rejected the repeated sexual advances and after he was unable to resolve the situation with his supervisor, reported it to the company. Once it was reported, Tarui claimed he was pressured to drop the complaint. The report also pointed to separate alcohol-filled company outings where some employees took off their cloths and went swimming naked in a pool. Other employees who attended the event but did not participate were reported to have complained about this behavior.

Bridgewater: Don't try case in the media through "sensationalistic innuendos.”

In the statement sent to ValueWallk, Bridgewater did not comment on Tarui’s specific charges, pointing to ongoing legal challenges and not wanting the case “tried in the media through sensationalistic innuendos.”

“The New York Times article doesn’t square with common sense,” the statement said. “If Bridgewater was really as bad as the New York Times describes, then why would anyone want to work here?”

Until recently the fund had some of the most noncorrelated hedge fund performance among major firms. In the statement, Bridgewater said they have generated $1.3 billion in net positive returns year to date for clients across strategies. The All Weather Fund is reported in BarclayHedge to be up +10.06% year to date while the Pure Alpha Fund I is down -7.83% and the Pure Alpha Fund II is down -11.83%. Bridgewater said the fund has brought in $12 billion in new assets over the last seven months, pointing to this as demonstration of faith in their approach.

Bridgewater in multiple scrapes with major media

The Bridgewater work environment and the “radical transparency” that has painted the picture to outsiders has come under scrutiny of late. The hedge fund tape records meetings and encourages an environment where employees openly challenge one another. In February the hedge fund challenged The Wall Street Journal, calling the behind the scenes fight to succeed Bridgewater’s founder, Ray Dalio, 66, a “sensationalist mis-characterization.”

Similar charges with different circumstances are now surrounding Bridgewater.

“Rather than being the ‘cauldron of fear and intimidation’ the New York Times portrayed us as, Bridgewater is exactly the opposite,” the hedge fund explained. “Bridgewater is well known for giving employees the right to speak up, especially about problems, and to make sense of things for themselves. Everyone is encouraged to bring problems to the surface in whatever ways they deem to be most appropriate.”

Tarui was reported as being troubled by bringing up the issue to supervisors due to the concerns the conversation would be made public. Bridgewater said there were private options open to the employee:

Our employees typically report their business problems and ideas in real time through a public “issue log” and a company-wide survey that is administered quarterly.  More sensitive matters are reported through an anonymous “complaint line,” and all employees have access to an Employee Relations team charged with being a closed, confidential outlet outside of the management chain for handling issues of a personal nature.

Not backing down, Bridgewater’s concept of radical transparency is a unique management approach, one that the statement said was direct causation for its performance track record.

We are far from perfect and we like to raise our imperfections to the surface so that we can deal with them honestly and transparently, while also protecting personal privacy. This approach is controversial and gives the media a lot of material to pick from to mischaracterize, but we believe that in the long run it is the best way for improving.  It has been the biggest reason for our success.

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