Thirteen Important Due Diligence Lessons for Hedge Fund Investors Arising Out of the SEC’s Recent Action against a Fund of Funds Manager Alleging Misuse of Fund Assets

The SEC recently obtained an emergency asset freeze and temporary restraining order against a hedge fund of funds manager, Stanley J. Kowalewski (Kowalewski), and his management entity, SJK Investment Management LLC (SJK).  The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Atlanta, generally alleges that Kowalewski and SJK engaged in two categories of conduct in violation of federal securities laws.  First, Kowalewski and SJK allegedly used fund assets to pay management company and personal expenses.  Second, Kowalewski allegedly launched a hedge fund in which his fund of funds invested, but failed to disclose to his fund of funds investors either the existence of the underlying hedge fund or the investment by his fund of funds in it.  Neither the dollar values nor the creativity in this matter are particularly noteworthy.  The alleged fraud itself was trite, brief and straightforward.  However, a close reading of the SEC’s complaint offers a veritable treasure trove of insight into how investors in hedge funds and funds of funds can sharpen their due diligence practices.  We have extracted 13 key lessons from the matter that investors can use to revise their approach to hedge fund due diligence – or, even better, to confirm that their approach reflects current best practices.  This article details the SEC’s factual and legal allegations against Kowalewski and SJK, briefly discusses the procedural posture of the matter, then discusses in detail the 13 key lessons.

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