Morgan Stanley official charged in hate crime stabbing

Driver attacked with 2-1/2 inch knife

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- William Bryan Jennings, Morgan Stanley’s bond-underwriting chief in the U.S., was charged with a hate crime in the stabbing of a New York City cab driver of Middle Eastern descent over a fare.

Mohamed Ammar said the banker attacked him Dec. 22 with a 2½-inch blade and used racial slurs after a 40-mile ride from New York to the banker’s $3.4 million Darien, Connecticut home.

Jennings, who had attended a bank holiday party at a boutique hotel in Manhattan before hailing the cab, refused to pay the $204 fare upon arriving in his driveway, the driver said. When Ammar threatened to call the local police, Jennings said they wouldn’t do anything to help because he pays $10,000 in taxes, according to a report by the Darien police department.

Ammar, a native of Egypt, said he then backed out of the driveway to seek a police officer. The banker called him an expletive and said “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country,” according to the report, filed in state court in Stamford. A fight ensued as they drove through Darien, and Jennings, 45, allegedly cut Ammar, 44, police said.

The banker, who eventually fled the cab and turned himself in two weeks later after a vacation in Florida, was charged with second-degree assault, theft of services and intimidation by bias or bigotry. He faces as long as 5 years in prison on the assault charge.

Put on Leave

Pen Pendleton, a spokesman for New York-based Morgan Stanley, said yesterday that Jennings, who is free on $9,500 bond and is set for a March 9 court appearance, has been put on leave.

The banker has worked at Morgan Stanley during his entire career in the securities industry, starting in 1993, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Now co-head of North American fixed-income capital markets, he worked his way up from associate; vice president, and then principal, for debt capital markets; to executive director for investment banking and then managing director for fixed income capital markets. He is a graduate of Williams College and received a master’s in business from Northwestern University.

Ammar, an American citizen who immigrated to the U.S. in 1994, is a resident of the Astoria section of the New York City borough of Queens. He is married and has three children, he said yesterday in a phone interview. Ammar has been driving yellow cabs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks cut business for a limousine service he had operated starting in 1997, he said.

Called Police

He told police Jennings flagged him down in front of Ink48, a hotel on Manhattan’s West Side. The hotel confirmed there was a Morgan Stanley party that night, which Jennings said he had went to following a charity event.

The banker appeared “drunk,” the driver said, according to court documents.

Jennings told police that, while he had been drinking throughout the afternoon, he wasn’t “highly intoxicated,” according to the police report. The executive said he had hosted the charity auction for Morgan Stanley until 6 p.m. before heading to the bank’s holiday party at the hotel’s rooftop bar.

He left the party sometime before 11 p.m. and headed to the street, where he was supposed to be met by a car service, Jennings said. He hailed Ammar’s cab after the livery car didn’t appear, according to the report.

Ammar said Jennings agreed on the fare and told him he would pay cash. Jennings fell asleep during the trip, the driver said. Once at the destination, though, Jennings said “he did not feel like paying” because he was already home, Ammar told police.

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