Last week, it was reported that the once popular Visium Hedge Fund would be liquidating all of its investment assets and closing the company due to issues related to possible insider trading and management conflicts. This week, Dow Jones reported that one of the fund’s top portfolio managers, Sanjay Valvani, was found dead of an apparent suicide. It was Valvani who had been charged with insider trading violations.
His wife discovered Valvani’s body in his residence on the evening of June 20. The 44-year old father and husband left a suicide, which was also discovered in close proximity to his body. The cause of death is pending an autopsy by the state’s medical examiner.
In a statement released to the press, attorney Barry Berke and partner Eric Tirschwell stated: “This is a horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend. We hope for the sake of his family and his memory that it will not be forgotten that the charges against him were only unproven accusations and he had always maintained his innocence.”
During the week preceding his death, Valvani had turned himself into federal authorities to face charges he had used information related to pending FDA drug approvals to create profits of approximately $25,000,000 for his clients. Visium had already placed him on leave after news broke of the investigation.
The most serious of the specific charges would be that Valvani had secured highly confidential Food & Drug Administration information from 2005 to 2011. One Gordon Johnstone, a former FDA employee, who has been charged with tipping off Valvani about pending FDA decisions, allegedly provided the information. Valvani was also charged with passing that information along to one Chris Plaford, another top Visium portfolio manager.
After hearing news of the apparent suicide, the US Attorney declined to make a comment on the status of its investigation.