Sanjay Valvani, the Visium Asset Management partner charged with insider trading last week, was found dead in an apparent suicide at his Brooklyn home. He was 44.
New York police were called to his home Monday evening, where they found a knife near his body and a suicide note. Mr. Valvani died after an apparent, self-inflicted slash to the neck, a spokeswoman said.
“We mourn the tragic loss of Sanjay, a devoted father, husband and friend,” said Jacob Gottlieb, Visium’s founder, in a statement Tuesday.
The stunning development follows Mr. Valvani’s arrest last week on insider-trading charges, which led to Visium’s decision to liquidate four of its hedge funds. Mr. Valvani, a top lieutenant of Mr. Gottlieb’s, reaped more than $32 million from trades in drug companies using secret tips, according to federal prosecutors. Mr. Valvani’s lawyer, Barry Berke, said his client was innocent of the charges.
At Visium, Mr. Valvani oversaw a portfolio of specialty pharmaceutical stocks. His performance was so good that rivals at other hedge funds would question Visium employees at conferences about Mr. Valvani’s confidence in his trades, a former colleague said. Mr. Valvani managed as much as $2 billion, including borrowed money, before he was put on leave in April.
A native of Kalamazoo, Mich., and child of Indian immigrants, Mr. Valvani worked at Visium since its 2005 inception. He started out as a sell-side associate at Salomon Smith Barney and joined Mr. Gottlieb as an analyst at Balyasny Asset Management in 2003. Two years later, Mr. Gottlieb spun out his health-care strategy, bringing along a team of 20 investment professionals including Mr. Valvani, to start Visium.
Visium, which managed $8 billion at its peak earlier this year, last week told clients that it had struck an agreement to sell a multisector hedge fund to AllianceBernstein, and plans to close its other funds.
Mr. Valvani is survived by his wife, Harjot Sandhu, a former first-grade teacher and reading specialist, and his children.
Visium is the biggest hedge fund in the industry to have employees linked to criminal wrongdoing since the government set its sights on billionaire Steve Cohen’s S.A.C. Capital Advisors. That firm pleaded guilty to federal insider-trading charges in 2013, agreed to pay $1.8 billion and was forced to shut its doors.
Stefan Lumiere, a former Visium money manager, was also charged in the case. He was accused of mismarking securities at Visium. His lawyer has said he’s innocent. A third former Visium employee, Christopher Plaford, pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges.
Mr. Valvani died as an innocent man. Because he passed away before his case was resolved, the court is required to dismiss the charges against him.
“This is a horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend,” said Mr. Berke, Mr. Valvani’s lawyer. “Sanjay Valvani was a loving father, husband, son and brother and committed friend, colleague and mentor. 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.”