Silicon Valley Hedge Funds Face Investor Ire

Aug 27 2010 | 10:29am ET

A hedge fund run by the son of a retired Silicon Valley executive is fighting allegations that it “systematically” misled investors about losses suffered during the financial crisis.

The hedge fund, called Opulent Lite, was sued by about 50 investors last year who alleged that manager Neil Godbole, the son of Navin Communications co-founder Vishwas Godbole, sought to hide the huge losses in order to continue to collect fees. Another hedge fund, Opulent, that is run by Vishwas Godbole himself, has since settled with most of the investors that sued it.

At issue is a sudden restatement of the fund’s values in early 2009. Investors had been told that the funds had weathered the storms that battered the hedge fund industry in 2008, and were shocked to discover that Opulent Lite had actually lost about half its value and the Opulent fund was down 26.2% on the year.

The younger Godbole blamed a “rollover” strategy that he tried to employ to recover the losses, while his father pointed to a “major accounting error” in September. Neil Godbole wrote, “I had never done rollovers previously, and I sincerely wish I had never gotten into doing them this year (or ever). It really completely messed up the fund’s accounting.”

The litigating investors saw something more sinister, filing a lawsuit against both funds last year alleging a “systematic and organized family scheme.” Vishwas Godbole, who is still running the Opulent hedge fund, told the San Jose Mercury News that the allegations are “absurd and false,” and an accountant for his lawyers said neither Godbole overcharged investors.

Opulent Lite has since been liquidated.


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