The Visium Asset Management hedge funder charged with insider trading by the Justice Department last week was discovered dead at his home Monday evening in an apparent suicide.
44-year-old Sanjay Valvani’s body was discovered by his wife in their Brooklyn, N.Y. home near 6 p.m. yesterday. Valvani, who was on the floor of their bedroom, had a wound on his neck and a knife near the body. Valvani’s wife also discovered a suicide note, according to a spokeswoman from the New York Police Department.
“This is a horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend. Sanjay Valvani was a loving father, husband, son and brother and committed friend, colleague and mentor,” Valvani’s lawyers, Barry Berke and Eric Tirschwell wrote in a statement. “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.”
Valvani along with three others were charged in an insider trading case last week that netted the group over $32 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official told Valvani when a drug would receive FDA approval before the information went public. Valvani allegedly paid for the information, and subsequently made illicit trades.
The case, which is one of biggest to hit the hedge fund industry in the past few years, could also mark the end of Visium. Though Visium, headed by Jacob Gottlieb, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, it sold one fund and shut down the rest just days after the SEC charged Valvani,
“Given the uncertainty relative to the final outcome of the recent regulatory developments, the negative impact of the resulting publicity, and the substantial investor withdrawals, it became clear that maintaining the status quo was increasingly untenable,” Gottlieb wrote in a letter to investors, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Valvani, a portfolio manager focused on the pharmaceutical sector, led a five-member team at Visium. Valvani, who had been with the firm since its inception in 2005, was put on paid leave in April, when Visium revealed it was under federal investigation. Valvani had followed Gottlieb from Balynsny Asset Management to Visium.
“In the beginning, I really had to convince Jacob Gottlieb that I was hungry to join his hedge fund,” Valvani said in a 2012 profile for Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. “But I believed in myself, my education and my experience. I work hard and try to be the best at what I do, which is why a hedge fund is so suitable for me—here I have a lot of control over my own destiny.”
The court is required to dismiss charges against Valvani as he died before receiving a sentence.