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Madoff Ponzi Scheme Might Have First Casualty

POSTED: 06:07 PM ET, 12/23/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, which hit charitable organizations, hedge funds and stockholders worldwide, might have its first known casualty.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a French hedge fund manager whose firm was exposed to $1.4 billion in losses through its investments with Madoff, was found without a pulse by New York City police at about 7:50 a.m. today at his Madison Avenue office, a few blocks from Rockefeller Center.

Villehuchet, 65, was a co-founder of Access International Advisors (Web site), a New York-based firm which raised funds on European markets to invest with Madoff. Police found him at his desk with his wrists cut, apparently with a box cutter. Sleeping pills were found nearby.

Madoff, 70, was charged Dec. 11 with securities fraud after confessing to his sons, both business partners, that his company was a giant Ponzi scheme; returns paid to investors came from money invested by other people. Authorities are already calling it possibly the largest fraud in the history of Wall Street.

Villehuchet, who in French media reports and sailing periodicals went by the name Thierry de La Villehuchet, "could not cope with the pressure following the outbreak of the scandal," the Web site of the French newspaper La Tribune quoted an unnamed associate as saying.

A friend, who declined to be identified, told Agence France Presse that Villehuchet was "devastated" and feared his clients would turn against him in the courts.

"Access was his whole life, and Madoff was a manager in whom he had complete trust," the friend said. "I lunched with him two weeks ago and he said, how lucky it was that Madoff was the only manager still doing well at the moment."

By Derek Kravitz |  December 23, 2008; 6:07 PM ET
Previous: Madoff Probe, Gitmo Detainees' Future Home and Charges in New York Firefighter Deaths | Next: Trials Begin in China's Tainted Milk Scandal

Comments

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Directly and indirectly, Madoff is responsible for so much grief and failure. But what really frightens me is the thought that he might be the tip of the iceberg. I hope not, but this is the way it's been since October - why stop now?

Posted by: liska33 | December 25, 2008 6:48 AM

Mr. "Madeoff" has truly caused a lot of pain for many with his scheme. Can someone explain to me how the financial crisis this country finds itself in has not been a giant Ponzi Scheme?

Posted by: fabricmaven1 | December 28, 2008 5:17 PM

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