Wesleyan Sues Ex-Endowment Chief, Claiming Fraud

For more than eight years, one of the highest paid employees at Wesleyan used university access and funds to make money at other companies and finance family vacations and international recreational trips, the suit alleges.

(January 6, 2010) – Thomas Kannam, Wesleyen University’s former chief investment officer, has been sued for $3 million for fraud and breach of contract, among other charges.

Kannam is accused of fraudulently billing Wesleyan for more than eight years for external expenses, including a family vacation to Disney World, trips to attend the Super Bowl, and a wedding in India. The university charges Kannam in the lawsuit filed on November 24 for “devoting most of his energies into personal ‘entrepreneurial ventures,’ which diverted his attention away from his duties at Wesleyan,” according to the university’s student newspaper, the Wesleyan Argus, which first reported the story on Monday. The university also claims Kannam used his access to Wesleyan’s financial information and funds to make money at outside companies.  

The Middletown, Connecticut-based Wesleyan hired Kannam in 1998 as director of investments. After his promotion to run the fund in 2005, Kannam became one of the highest paid employees at the university, earning close to $500,000 annually.  

According to Bloomberg, Wesleyan’s endowment, which fell a record 24% in the 12 months ended June 30, 2009, was valued at nearly $520 million as of September 30.

To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Kristopher McDaniel at <a href='mailto:kmcdaniel@assetinternational.com'>kmcdaniel@assetinternational.com</a>