Probe Into Madoff's Scam Widens
As more details surface about the alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme run by noted New York financier Bernard L. Madoff, the man behind the scam is talking with federal prosecutors about how he swindled thousands of investors for so long.
The New York Times reports that Madoff is the one who put a dollar figure on the fraud -- to the tune of $50 billion -- as he talked yesterday with federal prosecutors in New York.
The Times also noted that one of Madoff's primary go-betweens, Walter M. Noel and his family-run Fairfield Greenwich investment group, might be the biggest loser in the Madoff scandal, with an estimated $7.5 billion gone.
The list of Madoff's investors continues to grow. Among those publicly named: director Steven Spielberg; Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG; screenwriter Eric Roth (who called himself "the biggest sucker who ever walked the face of the Earth"); Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.); New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon; clothier Carl Shapiro; real-estate developer Mortimer Zuckerman; the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance of Springfield; the European bank HSBC; and Yeshiva University (several politicians, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), are also giving back campaign contributions from Madoff).
But as interesting as who's on the list is who is noticeably absent. James Hedges IV of LJH Global Investments, told Forbes that it's no surprise big institutions, such as Duke, Harvard, the state of Texas or the Virginia Retirement system, didn't invest with Madoff.
Letting Madoff manage your money "wouldn't pass an institutional-quality due diligence process," he said. "Because when you get to page two of your 30-page due diligence questionnaire, you've already tripped eight alarms and said 'I'm out of here.'"
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is under fire for ignoring tips about Madoff's dealings that might have led regulators to the alleged Ponzi scheme earlier.
Federal regulators improperly discounted allegations, failed to relay concerns to supervisors and relied on documents provided by Madoff instead of using subpoenas or other methods to obtain information.
SEC Chairman Christopher Cox called the oversights "deeply troubling" and ordered an internal investigation, also probing Madoff's ties to the SEC; his niece last year married a former SEC attorney.
A judge is allowing Madoff (who apparently enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in Palm Beach, Fla., according to Bloomberg) to stay out of jail on $10 million bail with electronic monitoring and home detention.
By Derek Kravitz |
December 17, 2008; 12:56 PM ET
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