Daily Archives: December 27, 2008
Bernie Madoff must reveal all his assets to a federal judge by this Wednesday. Even if the man’s Ponzi scheme was a simple one, capable of fooling only the most naive and unsuspecting investors (plus some greed-blinded fund of fund managers) surely he was sophisticated enough to transfer his assets before the balloon went up. If I were one of his creditors, I’d want to know about his sons Mark and Andrew’s houses at 21 Cherry Valley Road and 57 Tomac Avenue, for instance, and what they might have stashed away in Swiss bank accounts, rather than what Bernie himself let himself be caught still holding. When will that information come out?
Update: I may have spoken too soon – they’re finding offshore accounts still owned by Bernard.
Sources close to the investigation said forensic accountants examining Madoff’s books believed he had regularly sent large sums of money to offshore accounts in the Caribbean and Europe. “There are accounts at New York Mellon Bank that we have been looking at that appear to have sent and received money from offshore locations,” a senior source said. Tracking down the money investors entrusted to Madoff is likely to be one of the longest and most complicated financial investigations on record.
Bernie Madoff is going to jail for the rest of his life, Walt Noel may avoid that fate but will certainly be stripped naked by rapacious creditors and his own attorneys, but Washington Mutual, fraudulent lender to every deadbeat in the country, escapes all censure. The bank itself went down, of course, wiping out its shareholders but its principals are even now eyeing Walt’s Villa Mustique and private jet collection, wondering how little they’ll have to pay for them.
WaMu’s operating credo was summed up by one employee: “If you were alive, they gave you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead you’d still get a loan.”
And how did Kerry Killinger, the brains behind this fraud make out?
In September, Mr. Killinger was forced to retire. Later that month, with WaMu buckling under roughly $180 billion in mortgage-related loans, regulators seized the bank and sold it to JPMorgan for $1.9 billion, a fraction of the $40 billion valuation the stock market gave WaMu at its peak.
Billions that investors had plowed into WaMu were wiped out, as were prospects for many of the bank’s 50,000 employees. But Mr. Killinger still had his millions, rankling laid-off workers and shareholders alike.
“Kerry has made over $100 million over his tenure based on the aggressiveness that sunk the company,” said Mr. Au, the money manager. “How does he justify taking that money?”
In June, Mr. Au sent an e-mail message to the company asking executives to return some of their pay. He says he has not heard back.
Works for me but I got a bit suspicious of the whole gag when those Swiss glaciers melted, “proving” global warming, and revealed the earlier of prehistoric Swiss who’d enjoyed an ice-free climate 5,000 years ago, before Al Gore discovered coal-powered energy plants.
As our population ages, it’s entirely possible that 78-year-old Walter Noel will soon be joined in his notoriety by other members of his generation. Old folks turning to crime may be a Japanese phenomenon now, but with the increasing popularity of sushi on the Round Hill Club’s menu, can golf cart thefts and senseless vandalism here within our own verdant boundaries be far behind?
You can always try Georgia’s Sea Island. Plenty of rooms available, albeit without much staff to service them.
Or, according to this post, you can probably buy it for pennies.
Wasn’t Sea Island the source for a famous cotton, or have I confused the place with somewhere else?
Update: Not for 80 years. Done in by the end of slavery, boll weevils and land development.
With a tip of the hat to New York Social Diary, photos of Walter and Monica having a blast in Florida (note attache case stuffed with cash under pink flowers, background).
My old criminal law professor, Loftus Becker, used to challenge the class by posing “hypos” – a hypothetical set of facts from which we were to determine whether a crime had been committed. He’d have liked this one:
Suppose you run a “fund of funds”, collecting $200 million per year to select other hedge fund managers for your clients’ money and then monitoring that manager’s performance.
Suppose that an integral part of one particular manager’s trading strategy was to sell off all securities at the end of each month, park the proceeds in cash or cash equivalents and start the process anew the first day of the next month.
Suppose that, in your role of monitor, you received a monthly statement from that hedge fund manager showing that the proceeds for the preceding month had been placed in the Fidelity’s Spartan U.S. Treasury Money Market Fund.
Suppose that, instead of confronting that manager and demanding an explanation, you busied yourself preparing for your annual Christmas jaunt to Mustique and Monica’s trip to a Mexican wedding.
Have you engaged in such reckless neglect that your behavior has gone beyond mere civil liability and crossed the line to criminal fraud?
We’ll soon find out.