Sanjay Valvani
Sanjay Valvani

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Sanjay Valvani, a partner at Visium Asset Management who last week was charged with insider trading, was found dead at the age of 44 inside of his Brooklyn home in an apparent suicide.

New York City police were called to his home on Monday evening, where they found a knife near his body and a suicide note. 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,” Jacob Gottlieb, Visium’s founder, said in a statement Tuesday.

After Valvani’s arrest last week, Visium liquidated four of its hedge funds. Vilvani, considered to be Gottlieb’s right-hand, brought in more than $32 million from trades in drug companies using secret tips, according to federal prosecutors. His lawyer, Barry Berke, maintained his client’s innocence against the charges.

At Visium, Valvani was responsible for overseeing a portfolio of specialty-pharmaceutical stocks. His consistent outperformance of other hedge funds led competitors to question Visium employees about the confidence Valvani had in specific trades he made, according to a former colleague. Valvani managed as much as $2 billion, including borrowed money, before he was placed on leave in April.

A child of Indian immigrants, Valvani had been a presence at Visium since its inception in 2005. He began his career as a sell-side associate at Solomon Smith Barney and partnered with Gottlieb as an analyst at Balyasny Asset Management in 2003. Just two years later, Gottlieb spun out his health-care strategy, bringing along a team of 20 investment professionals including Valvani, to start Visium.

“I really had to convince Jacob Gottlieb that I was hungry to join his hedge fund,” Valvani said in a profile by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he got an MBA. “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.”

At its peak earlier this year, Visium managed a portfolio of $8 billion. Last week, the company told clients that it had come to terms of an agreement to sell a multi-sector hedge fund to AllianceBernstein LP, and plans to close its other funds.

Valvani is survived by his wife, Harjot Sandhu, a former first-grade teacher and his children.

Visium becomes the largest hedge fund in the industry to have employees linked to criminal activities since the government began investigating billionaire Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors. That firm pleaded guilty to federal insider-trading charges in 2013, agreeing to pay $1.8 billion and was forced to shut its doors.

Stefan Lumiere, a former money manager at Visium, was also charged in the case. He’s been accused of mismanaging securities at Visium, and a third former Visium employee, Chris Plaford, pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges.

Since he passed away before his case was resolved, the court was forced to drop the charges against Valvani, meaning he died an innocent man.

“This is a horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend,” Berke, Valvani’s lawyer, said. “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.”