Archive for the ‘swindler’ Category

Ponzi wiz Bernard Madoff sent to prison

March 13, 2009

It’s a little bit like seeing the devil,” said Burt Ross, a lawyer from Englewood, NJ who lost $5 million in Madoff’s swindle. Feeling betrayed, DeWitt Baker, an investor who lost more than $1 million angrily fumed “I’d stone him to death.” —-AP (03.12/09, Neusmeister, L; Hays, T)

Bernard Madoff, the personification of Wall Street greed and reckless extravagance has admitted guilt of pulling the biggest Ponzi scam in history. In the Federal Court of Manhattan, in New York, US district judge Denny Chin revoked Madoff’s $10 million bail and ordered the disgraced swindler’s confinement to a windowless room at the Metropolitan Correction Center instead of being comfortably holed in his lavish $7 million home at 133 E, 64th Street.

For defrauding his clients of $65 billion, at sentencing date in June this year, the former chairman of Nasdaq could get a life sentence—a maximum of 150 years in jail for perjury and financial fraud.

Without implicating anyone except himself, the apologetic Madoff who gave no comfort to his victims, pleaded guilty in all counts of fraud. In doing so, many believed his acceptance of full responsibility was a way to protect his wife Ruth, his family, and friends. His victims were fuming mad. Wall Street regulators ignored the flags of deception which allowed the once respected investment guru to operate without being caught for decades.

Thousands of defrauded clients in the United States and abroad include banks, charities, financial institutions, pension funds, retirees, and private individuals whose life savings and investments have been damaged. In their ranks are those who have suffered irreparable financial ruin with no chance to recover. At least one victim has been driven into committing suicide.

Some of Madoff’s Victims
Fairfield Greenwich Advisors—–investment firm————–$7,500,000,000
Banco Santander——————Spanish bank—————–$2,870,000,000
Bank Medici————————-Austrian bank—————-$2,100,000,000
HSBC——————————— British bank——————-$1,000,000,000
BNP————————————French bank——————-$431,170,000
New York University——————University——————–$24,000,000
Korea Teachers Pension———-Korean Pension Fund———$9,100,000
Marc Rich——————————fugitive financier————–Not available
Yeshiva University———————NY private university——–$14,500,000
Int’l Olympic Committee————–Olympic organizer———-$4,800,000
Zsa Zsa Gabor————————-actress————————$10,000,000
Diocese of St. Thomas—————Cath. Church (Virgin Is)—–$2,000,000

The imprisonment of Madoff is just the tip of the iceberg to the massive scandal that rocks Wall Street. Trust in the financial institutions is at an all time low. Many Americans adversely affected by the economic meltdown are demanding for accountability and prosecution of those responsible in the betrayal of trust. (Photo Credits: Acteon; Jason Smith) =0=


Getting to know Charles Ponzi

January 13, 2009

Charles Ponzi (1882-1949) was a US immigrant from Lugo, Italy who swindled thousands of New Englanders in a postage-stamp scam in the 1920s. He popularized an investment which paid returns to investors out of the money paid by those who followed them rather than from profit. This illegal money operation was named after him. The Ponzi scheme as it is known today, evolved with many variations. Disregarding some differences in the swindling method, Ponzi had been sometimes referred to as the “pyramid scam.”

Promising 40% investment return against that which was offered by savings banks with only 5% yield, Ponzi convinced thousands of investors that he could make astounding profits on a buy and sell of international mail coupons. His scheme worked for sometime on the principle of “rob Peter to pay Paul.” Basically, it was a set-up of cash pay-off and distribution without real investment—

Ponzi’s fast money and high rate of return was too good to resist and many were snared into the fake investment operation. He became an instant millionaire who diverted the money of new investor-recruits to pay for those who invested earlier until the operation collapsed.

At the end of his financial fraud, only a third of the duped investors’ money was returned. Investors’ losses amounted to about $3 million to $7 million (about $75 million today)in those days. Ponzi was convicted for mail fraud and embezzlement, put to jail, and later deported. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia) =0=

Bernard Madoff, accused top Ponzi scheme artist is allowed bail

January 12, 2009

Ponzi scheme artist Bernard Madoff who was accused of swindling the business world of a staggering $50 billion had been granted bail against the assertion of prosecutors that he is a flight risk and an economic threat to the community. During the holidays while waiting for indictment, the former Nasdaq chairman sent friends and relatives diamond bracelets, jewelries, and gifts amounting to about $1 million in violation of a court-ordered freeze.

But Federal Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis of Manhattan ruled that Madoff (who did not have prior convictions,) could stay in his luxurious $7 million Eastside Manhattan apartment with some additional restrictions— instead of being locked in jail.

“The anxiously awaited bail decision does put additional restrictions on Madoff, including forcing him to come up with a list of items at his apartment and allowing a security firm to check on the items. The security company will also be allowed to search all outgoing mail from Madoff to ensure that no property has been transferred”.—AP (01/12/09, Neumeister, L)

The judge’s decision disappointed and infuriated many who were victimized by the fraud, supposedly the largest ever in financial history. They believed the accused swindler who was reportedly fitted with an electronic surveillance tag on his ankle got a “different brand of justice than the guy in the street.”

Madoff’s decades-long fraudulent business activity operated similar to a pyramid scam under the guise of a legitimate trading powerhouse which promised high investment yields with low fees. His company which started in 1960 attracted high profile banks, industry leaders, well-connected individuals, loyal friends, and rich celebrities. R. Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a prominent hedge fund manager-client who lost $1.4 billion committed suicide in his office in Madison Avenue last month.

In spite of the gravity of the accusations and the public clamor that Madoff be confined in prison, the judge’s decision to put him on house arrest shows how the legal system operates. Following the course of a criminal proceeding, it will take some time before a conviction, if apt for this case, will be decided.

Of course this isn’t consolation. The erosion of trust is astounding. At the back of this monumental fraud, the government regulators appear negligent for the red flags of fraud has been there for years. They have not done a good job in protecting American citizens—especially those ordinary investors on the street. (Photo Credit: Adam Crowe) =0=