Disgraced CIO James Velissaris Tried to Disappear From the Internet. But the Internet Remembers a Lot About James Velissaris.
The Infinity Q Capital Management CIO has been accused of altering third-party valuation models for one of its funds.
As news broke Monday that investment firm Infinity Q Capital Management was gating and liquidating a fund portfolio, its chief investment officer James Velissaris seemed to disappear from the internet.
His LinkedIn profile is now defunct. The Infinity Q website, which now only includes a statement about the situation, said Tuesday that it was undergoing maintenance.
But Velissaris couldn’t vanish from the internet altogether. News articles, his own research, and a defunct version of Infinity Q’s website paint a picture of what led up to his time at the firm.
Late last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission told Infinity Q’s non-executive chairman that it had found evidence that Velissaris had been altering the third-party valuation models for its $1.8 billion Diversified Alpha Fund. The firm said it had independently confirmed this but had not assessed the impact of those changes.
Velissaris has since been placed on administrative leave and locked out of trading accounts by Infinity Q. He has retained attorneys Sean Hecker and Michael Ferrara, who told Institutional Investor Tuesday that “Our client has acted in good faith throughout his tenure at Infinity Q and will continue to do so moving forward. His focus has always been on delivering and preserving value for investors.”
Before working in finance, Velissaris was an athlete. He played football at his Illinois high school, setting a single-game rushing record in 2001 that was broken 13 years later.
Velissaris was good enough to play for a college team, and his stepfather, David Claerbaut, began walking him through the recruiting process in earnest. Claerbaut went on to write a book about the intensity of the Division 1-A football recruiting process called Recruiting Confidential: A Father, a Son, and Big-Time College Football.
Velissaris ended up at Harvard University, where he played first as a running back and second as a cornerback, Harvard’s football team website shows. The Harvard Crimson reported in 2006 that Velissaris and other players were involved in a dust-up with a shuttle bus driver at the school, resulting in a one-game suspension.
Velissaris graduated from the university with a degree in economics. He also received a master’s degree in operations research, with a concentration in financial engineering, from Columbia University, according to a now-defunct version of the Infinity Q website.
Velissaris began his career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, then moved to Arden Asset Management, where he conducted analysis on portfolio construction and asset allocation. While at Arden, Velissaris published research on diversified statistical arbitrage.
He went on to work for TPG Capital founding partner David Bonderman’s $3 billion family office, Wildcat Capital Management. At Wildcat, he managed uncorrelated investment strategies that would become the foundation for Infinity Q, according to the defunct website.
Velissaris was both the chief investment officer and principal owner of Infinity Q.
Infinity Q said in a Tuesday statement that it is suspending all redemptions in its Diversified Alpha Fund, as well as certain private funds whose portfolios contain the same or similar derivatives.
Len Potter, the firm’s non-executive chairman, has assumed management of Infinity Q. Potter is the president and chief investment officer at Wildcat Capital Management, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Infinity Q has also hired an independent expert to conduct a valuation of its portfolio and oversee its liquidation.
“The fund intends to proceed with a liquidation plan and distribution to shareholders, both of which will be presented to the SEC for approval,” according to a statement published on Infinity Q’s website. “At this time, there is no estimate of when the liquidation and distribution will be completed. Until then, redemptions of fund shares will remain suspended.”