Is Vivek Ramaswamy a Fraud?

From George Soros to the Koch brothers, the shadowy businessmen who have run America from behind a curtain have one thing in common- their hatred for their average citizen. It’s the reason why the Koch brothers, the men who made up the fabric of the GOP for decades, were so pro-immigration– because it benefited them monetarily while making life more difficult for the average American.

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After watching the recent GOP debate, it should be clear to everyone these clowns aren’t Republicans just like Democrats aren’t Democrats; they are seedy, self-serving criminals that tell you two things you like while they stab you in the back with ten things you don’t. As much as Vivek Ramaswamy has a great smile and says all the right things, at Rare, I’m tasked with telling you the truth; today, we will be finding out what’s really behind that smile. 

One thing that stands out about Vivek Ramaswamy is that he’s worth a staggering $950 million. As videos like his high school valedictorian speech illustrate, he’s always been a well-spoken, intelligent, and charismatic guy. But you and I both know many people with more intellect than most of the general population, and odds are, they aren’t worth almost a billion dollars. So, how did Vivek make his money?

Vivek studied his undergrad at Harvard, where he was President of the Harvard Political Union (the oldest collegiate debate society in our country). He was a well-known libertarian voice on campus. Ramaswamy would perform Eminem covers and original free-market-themed rap songs under the alter ego Da Vek– a strange maneuver, but at Harvard, I suppose it’s worth doing anything to stand out, and in my time around the sun, I’ve met many young Indian men who aspired to be rappers. Describing Vivek as an undergrad, Paul Davis, who lived in a dorm with Ramaswamy and later worked with him at his pharmaceutical company, recently told The New Yorker, “He knows his views and style rubbed some people the wrong way, but he didn’t care.” 

You can still see that energy on the debate stage when Nikki Haley’s GOP donors boo him for his opinions.

The Summer following Ramaswamy’s Sophomore year, he interned at a nine-billion-dollar hedge fund called Amaranth Advisors. Amaranth would eventually go bankrupt years later because one of the firm’s traders lost several billion dollars in a week on risky futures bets. Still, during his time there, Vivek impressed. So much so that he claims that the big guys there would take him to expensive restaurants and clubs with bottle service—with all purchases being subsidized by investor fees. The next Summer, Ramaswamy got a job at Goldman Sachs. 

Vivek insists these experiences helped shape the populist views he raves about to the public, but I don’t buy it. After graduating from Harvard in 2007, Ramaswamy worked as a biotech-stock analyst at QVT, a hedge fund in New York City. By 2011, Ramaswamy was making over $2 million in annual income. So, what does a hedge fund bro already making more money than he knows what to do with do next? He sets his eyes on Yale Law School. In spite of making more than enough income to pay for his own schooling, Vivek accepted a scholarship from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a scholarship fund specifically intended for the children of immigrants, which Daisy and Paul Soros, the late older brother of liberal billionaire financier George Soros, founded. Spokespeople for Vivek have said that only a fool would reject the scholarship, which might be true, but what we know for sure is that Ramaswamy did everything he could to hide this scholarship from the public- including paying someone to edit his Wikipedia page

At Yale Law, Ramaswamy studied hard and managed to keep his job at QVT (who paid him ten million dollars during his years in New Haven). More importantly, he made the connections that would help him transcend your typical Wall Street, adderall-fueled analyst. One of those connections was JD Vance, the junior Senator from Ohio and author of Hillbilly Elegy. Fellow Bengals fan Vance and Ramaswamy were selected to an exclusive group of students invited to lunch by Paypal co-founder and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel. For those of you who don’t know Peter Thiel, you should. It’s been correctly pointed out for years that George Soros has his finger on the button for the Democratic Party, and Thiel, along with his former colleague Elon Musk, have the same effect on Republicans. Thiel has contributed around $50 million to state and federal political candidates and campaigns since 2000, and he was the 10th largest individual donor to either party in the 2022 midterm congressional elections, according to the non-profit OpenSecrets. Last year, backed by Thiel and Donald Trump, Vance won a US Senate seat in Ohio. Vivek thought about running for the position but ended up running for President instead. 

I don’t know you or your politics, but I do know that until this point in Vivek’s life story, it reads like the prequel of any member of Congress. That’s about to change. 

In 2013, Ramaswamy graduated from Yale Law. In 2014, he founded Roivant Sciences — incorporated in the tax haven of Bermuda and backed by nearly $100 million in funding from investors, including QVT. Vivek postulated Roivant as an innovative healthcare company focused on technology with the goal of giving consumers more effective options for a lower price. To make Roivant look strong, he assembled an advisory board of well-known leaders from either side of the political spectrum. A friend from Harvard helped him recruit Democrats, including Tom Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, and Donald M. Berwick, a former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator. The Republicans included former Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mark McClellan, the FDA commissioner under George W. Bush. As noble as Vivek’s goal for founding Roivant sounds, In 2015, he told Forbes,” This will be the highest return on investment endeavor ever taken up in the pharmaceutical industry.” 

Like most shady endeavors, it didn’t take long for Roivant to found a subsidiary company that did their dirty work for them. Later in the same year he founded Roivant, Ramaswamy founded Axovant (now known as Sio Gene Therapies). Why would Ramaswamy change the company’s name? In late 2014, Axovant bought an Alzheimer’s drug that GlaxoSmithKline had given up on after four failed clinical trials for $5 million. The drug was called intepirdine, and even though it didn’t work, that didn’t stop Vivek from lying to the world and telling people it would improve their lives. In an effort to rebrand the drug, he renamed it RVT-101. He then did the unthinkable. Vivek had his mother, Dr. Geetha Ramaswamy, conduct a new Phase 2 trial in 2015 involving “684 subjects.” This trial conveniently claimed to demonstrate sufficient improvement to “support Phase 3” trials

It was at that point, with a drug that had never worked before with no clinical trials in hand and a board of advisors with credibility by his side, that Axovant had their IPO. Almost instantly, the company with one drug was worth a billion dollars. 

How is this possible? Two hedge funds, Visium Asset Management LP and RA Capital Management LLC, purchased 10 million shares of the company during the IPO, which were locked for 90 days (instead of the customary 180 days). Those 10 million shares represent over half of the shares for Axovant. 

In September 2017, after Ramaswamy studied the drug with 1,315 patients, the clinical trials found that the day-to-day experience for those patients was no different than the placebo. As you can see from Axovant’s stock price, the market responded sharply to the news; Axovant dropped 75 percent of its value in a single day. Visium dispersed a year later, and RA Capital Management LLC has a long history of fraud. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they sold their shares before the ship sank. Thanks to the way he structured his biotechnology empire, he did not hold a direct stake in Axovant. His personal stake was through Roivant, allowing Mr. Ramaswamy to weather the storm. While investors suffered devastating losses, Ramaswamy profited from a higher media profile (he made several thirty-under-thirty lists), IPO payouts, and the sale of Axovant’s assets. Roivant raised $500 million thanks in part to the Axovant hype, all while gradually reducing and diluting its Axovant stake from 78% to just 25%.

In 2017, Roivant raised $1.1 billion in equity from several venture capital firms and other institutions, including Peter Thiel’s company, Palantir. Ramaswamy funded his campaign by selling over $32 million (four million shares) in Roivant stock options in February of this year. He still owns over fifty million shares in the company, even though In 2021, he stepped down from doing day-to-day operations in the company. QVT Financial is Roivant’s biggest shareholder- it’s currently 72.45% of their stock portfolio. While Ramaswamy vocally opposes globalism, Roivant’s major institutional investors—including Morgan Stanley, Viking Global, and BlackRock, the very firms he criticizes by name—are among its largest stakeholders, owning over 500 million shares

Yesterday, it was announced that Ramaswamy’s anti-woke ETF fund now manages over a billion dollars. The ETF, appropriately named Strive US Energy ETF, is an antithesis to investment giants such as BlackRock Inc., which have emphasized environmental, social, and governance-focused investing. The fund’s biggest holdings are in Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Marathon Petroleum Corporation; Ramaswamy has leveraged his success in the polls to gain funding for Strive while also happily selling his Roivant stock to companies like BlackRock and Viking Global. Either way, he’s making money. 

I’d be curious to see how Vivek would respond to these criticisms. He’s a likable guy with many great things to say, but between the hypocrisy and some mistakes he’s made along the way, I could see Trump calling him Vivek Fraudwithmommy on the debate stage. 

What do you think?

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