Tag Archives: Andres Piedrahita

Andres is stuck on his yacht now

Fairfield Greenwich Group shuts its office in Spain.

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Madoff scammer Picower found dead in pool

Jeffrey Picower was being sued by the Madoff trustee for $6 billion. Did angry Colombians find him before the subpoenas? “I don’t know,” Monica Noel told us when FWIW’s Scusie reached her comment, “but that’s why I had the pool here shut early this season. Walt’s just been sooo sad.”

Walt’s son-in-law and prime Colombian salesman for the Fairfield Greenwich Group, Andres Piedrahita was said to still be on his yacht  in the Adriatic – “not hiding,” a spokesman said, “it’s just that the sea trials for the potential buyer are taking a few moths longer than expected.”

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Holy bat s…, Andres, this should make you worry

Miami woman has a hit man knock off her (now deceased) boyfriend for just $200 bucks!   I don’t know that the hitman was Colombian, guy, but if the going rate is that low (plus maybe airfare to Westchester County Airport), and I’d recently scammed my fellow countrymen of a few billion bucks, I’d be on the first yacht I could find and headed for the Adriatic, pronto. Walt, you might want to take some precautions too: from what I hear about these people, they like to make retribution an extended family affair.

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Andres Piedrahita flies to Mexico, pleads guilty

Well no, not yet, but depending on what Madoff’s lieutenant Frank DiPascali says tomorrow, he might want to. Sounds like Mexican prisons are a wonderland compared to our own and Andres already knows the lingo. He should have a ball.

Inside the high concrete walls ringed by barbed wire, past the heavily armed men in black uniforms with stern expressions, inmates rule the roost. Some well-heeled prisoners pay to have keys to their cells. When life inside, with its pizza deliveries, prostitutes and binges on drugs and alcohol, becomes too confining, prisoners sometimes pay off the guards for a furlough or an outright jailbreak.

“Our prisons are businesses more than anything else,” said Pedro Arellano Aguilar, an expert on prisons. He has visited scores of them in Mexico and has come away with a dire view of what takes place inside. “Everything is for sale and everything can be bought.”

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Seven minutes about Andres Piedrahita

That’s more than enough but the whiney baby, who owns 22% of Fairfield Greenwich Group and took at least that much of the profits to enjoy a luxurious life style, seems determined to tell the entire world what a sorry failure of a businessman he is and how he is a Madoff victim too. The people shown here aren’t buying it, for some reason.

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Andres Piedrahita: We’re so sorry, we’ll give it all back!

So he says now. Walt Noel, however, has already emailed us to say that his dumb son-in-law is high on horse flatulence and no money is going to be returned, ever. I’ll bet Walt is right on this, and that Andres was put up to this egregious lie by Fairfield Greenwich Group’s PR guy, Seth Faison.

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Won’t some Colombian investor please have a talk with Andres?

While poor Walter Noel is stuck cadging free drinks at the Bathing Club in the Hamptons (where he was blackballed from membership, but can still walk the hallowed grounds if accompanied by a member) and is banned from his digs at the Round Hill Club, son-in-law Andres Piedrahita is busy living it up on stolen money. Turns out, he’s off cruising the high seas on his new $30 million yacht he bought this June. That’s not just showing no remorse, that’s rubbing defrauded investors’ noses in it. Could be dangerous, Andres.

"Two mojitos, Walter and then I believe the master stateroom's head needs attending to."

"Two mojitos, Walter and then I believe the master stateroom's head needs attending to."

Greetings from Bogata!

Greetings from Bogata!

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Well we know Bernie’s not walking out of prison alive

Fox News, burned out from wall-to-wall Michael coverage no doubt, has come up with a prison “expert” (that would be any bum who spent years behind bars) to opine on how Bernie’s gonna get shived by an inmate paid to do so by a burned investor. I understand the insane desire to keep up ratings – why do you think I’m all Walt, all the time? – but this is just silly. he dies, he dies, but wasting airtime on a loudmouth isn’t productive.

Besides, and getting back to Walter, isn’t it more likely that if there’s a cheesed off investor floating around out there angry enough to kill  he’s a Colombian and wants revenge on Walter’s beloved son in law, Andres Piedrahita? Where is Andres these days, anyway? If he’s going to get whacked, I do hope he’ll have the decency to return to Greenwich for the final exit interview – we have standards to maintain here and his death in an obscure little Spanish village won’t help us at all.

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Bernie Madoff sentencing date

It’s scheduled for Monday but this author thinks it will be continued, probably several more times. I suppose that Bernie’s not going anywhere anyway, but we do need some new developments in the case to keep things interesting. I wonder how the Brit’s investigation of money laundering by Walt’s son-in-law Andres Piedrahita  is going?

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Walter, if Andres asks, just say no

Credit Suisse fugitive Julian Tzolov skipped bail and is probably back in Eastern Europe, where he first crawled out from under a rock. This leaves his girlfriend’s brother and another friend holding the bag, but not, as of yesterday, their homes. Federal judge Weinstein (local developer Seth Weinstein’s father, just as a curiosity) has ordered their property forfeited. I know Andres hasn’t been indicted for money laundering yet, Walt, and I’m aware of the $10 million lien on the 175 Round Hill Road cottage sucked three times its value into the vacuum of space, but you just can’t be too careful here. If Andres asks, maybe you can direct him to Ric’s Place on Fort Hill Lane. Now there’s some equity.

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When Round Hill loses its charm

Bear markets happen

Bear markets happen

Walt and the husbands of the Fabulous Five are looking for a new course to play through on, Freddie Bourke will want one too, assuming he’s still free to play outside after June 1st, Stephen Dido Dent will be paying alimony, not club dues soon, Peter Brandt is going to be rooming with Stephen, and gosh only knows whether Peter Dooney can stay a member at Maidstone once word gets out about his chasing Freddie around with a syringe filled with a “harmful substance”.

So, to help all those fellows, as well as any of you Merrill and Lehman guys who still have Internet access (it’s free at Greenwich Library, as you’ve probably already discovered, here’s a tip: A directory of public golf courses in the United States, Canada, and all countries that  don’t have an extradition treaty with the US.

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Is this what Noel’s boy Andres is up to?

Listen do you want to know a secret? Doo wha doo

Listen do you want to know a secret? Doo wha doo

Business Insider reports that Allen Stanford, the Little Madoff of this year’s crop of Ponzi artists, has been a DEA informant for the past ten years, ratting out his Colombian and South American drug dealer banking clients. It’s suggested that this is why he has yet to be arrested and I wonder whether Walt Noel’s son in law, Andres Piedrahita isn’t working the same vein. He’s got the connections, the same rumors about money laundering are swirling around him and yet there he sits, tanned, happy and just a little bit pudgy. It’s a good strategy for fending off the feds, I suppose, but my understanding of Colombian drug lords is that they’re very sensitive to slights on their honor and really get pissed off when people turn them over to the U.S. Government for prosecution. If so, Walt better invest in a good alarm system for his Round Hill cottage – these guys go after the extended family, I read.

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If it didn’t happen in Bridgeport you won’t find it in Greenwich Time

So, as noted here yesterday and this morning, Massachusetts has charged Fairlfield Greenwich Group and its principals, including Greenwich residents Walter Noel and his son-in-law, Andres Piedrahita, with fraud in connection with the Madoff swindle. You might think that story would be of interest to general readers who live in town but the best our local daily could do was run a short AP article on page five, half of which was devoted to the charges and the other two halves spent on an FGG spokesman denying everything. No mention of Walter, or Andres, or their outsized salaries or, in fact, anything at all connecting the story to Greenwich. I’d link to the story if it were posted on their miserable, slow loading website but it’s not there. That would be like, you know, news, or something. There is a story on a new train run to Yankee Stadium but I’ll let you find that for yourself.

Protecting the rich? Maybe, but more likely is that, now that Greenwich Time is edited by some fellow in Bridgeport, they don’t know the local papers and wouldn’t recognize a Greenwich story if it bit them in the rear. Or the paper is continuing its pusillanimous history of ignoring the dirt on Back Country residents, take your pick. Any recent stories on Round Hill Bourke’s upcoming bribery trial, by the way?

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It’s all Noel, all the time

While I was out, readers sent along tons of links on Walter Noel stories. Here’s a good one from the NYT Dealbook.com

Shortly before Bernard L. Madoff confessed to a Ponzi scheme that burned through tens of billions of dollars, partners of Fairfield Greenwich Group, one of Mr. Madoff’s biggest feeder funds, were on track to collect a combined $117 million in pay for 2008.

The estimated compensation figures were disclosed in an exhibit to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Massachusetts securities regulators, who contend that Fairfield’s inadequate due diligence on Mr. Madoff’s operations amounted to a fraud on its investors.

The exhibit consists of spreadsheets attached to an e-mail that Daniel Lipton, Fairfield’s chief financial officer, apparently e-mailed to himself on Dec. 11, 2008 — the same dayMr. Madoff was arrested by authorities in connection with running a vast investment scheme.

Fairfield’s $7 billion Sentry funds were more than 95 percent invested with Mr. Madoff, but Fairfield also managed billions of dollars in other funds, all of which performed poorly last year. Even before Mr. Madoff’s arrest, the firm had already conducted two rounds of layoffs.

Nevertheless, Jeffrey Tucker and Walter Noel, Fairfield’s co-founders, were each expected to earn about $19 million in 2008, the document shows. In 2007, before the markets went south, both men made over $30 million. Andrés Piedrahita, the managing partner of Fairfield Greenwich and Mr. Noel’s son-in-law, was to make over $28 million for 2008. In 2007, Mr. Piedrahita took home over $45 million.

I started covering the Noel story December 12, when Bernie’s arrest was announced. By December 15th, one of Walt’s loyal friends wrote in to express her dismay – I wonder what she thinks now?

How singularly unpleasant and vindictive you are to prey on the misfortunes of a local family. Let us hope that such misery does not descend upon you and your family out of the blue at the instigation of others. I would hate someone to defame your character and talk about you as if you were so much “meat” to be hacked apart. Not that I expect you will allow this comment to be shown on your site – goodness knows we don’t want any balance to the whole thing, or heaven forbid, you may not be able to make a buck or two out of this unhappy mess.

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Judge freezes Noel assets

Attorney David Golub, representing the town of Fairfield as it seeks to recover the millions it lost with Madoff feeder fund Maxam of Darien (yes, the fund that was run by a women to “empower women and minorities” turned out to have sunk every penny entrusted to it with Bernie – it closed the day Bernie was arrested), has persuaded a judge to grant a temporary restraining order freezing all the Madoff players’ assets until a full hearing on April 13th.

The restraining order granted by the judge is a “who’s who” of players in the Madoff scandal: Madoff, his wife Ruth, brother Peter, and son-in-law Andres Piedrahita; sons Andrew and Mark Madoff and Walter M. Noel Jr., a partner in the Fairfield Greenwich Group, all of whom live in Greenwich; Sandra L. Manzke, the founder of Maxam Capital; Robert I. Schulman, the former chairman of Tremont Group Holdings; and Jeffrey H. Tucker, the co-founder of the Fairfield Greenwich Group.


 

The restraining order prevents not only the sale of any real estate owned by any of the defendants, but also extends to all accounts at any financial institution and all personal property. That includes, but is not limited to, stock certificates or certificated securities and “any other assets in any of the defendants’ possession, custody or control,” according to court documents. 

The motion, filed by David Golub, a lawyer hired by the town for the Madoff case, states there is probable cause the town’s pension programs could receive a $75 million judgment and seeks to secure that sum by attaching Andrew Madoff’s home at 57 Tomac Ave., Mark Madoff’s home at 21 Cherry Valley Road, and Noel’s at 175 Round Hill Road home, all in Greenwich, as well as garnish all of the defendants’ accounts at financial institutions.”There is a reasonable likelihood that the defendants Andrew H. Madoff, Mark D. Madoff and Walter M. Noel Jr. are about to remove themselves or their property from this state, or are about to fraudulently dispose of or have fraudulently disposed of their property, with intent to hinder, delay or defraud their creditors,” the motion states.

I think highly of David Golub and I wish him luck in chasing down everyone who profited from Bernie Madoff’s fraud but in this instance, I don’t see how he reaches the Noel’s property. The town didn’t have any direct dealings with FGG, at least none are reported in the article, so it’s stuck with the rather weak argument that FGG and its partners were an integral part of the fraud and made it all possible. Maybe so, but freezing assets on so tenuous a claim seems a bit dubious. Still Connecticut’s judges, perhaps harkening back to the days when they passed out these ex parte orders like candy bars, still grant them with far more alacrity than judges in other states, and God bless them: it makes suing people so much more fun. And notice,by the way, that the judge granted the full $75 million invested. Fairfield invested $22 million, watched it “grow” to a phony $41 million and still got a $75 million attachment, no doubt to cover Goleb’s fees. I do like judges who protect litigators!
Bernie Madoff is unlikely to contest this order on April 13th – why should he care? – but Walt’s lawyers, Andres’ and Mark and Andy Madoff’s should all be in Bridgeport Superior Court that day. I may go up myself just to watch the fun.

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The WSJ chats with Walt’s son in law

Andres Piedrahita sits down with a Journal reporter and denies knowing anything. He sold, got rich, and never questioned a thing. Smart guy, just like Corina’s dad.

After graduating from B.U., Mr. Piedrahita knocked around New York working variously as a commodities broker, selling penny stocks and as an investment adviser. His budding financial career was almost clipped in the early 1980s. At the time, Mr. Piedrahita, who was working for a small commodities dealer then called Balfour Maclaine, got a number of his father’s Bogota friends interested in investments that quickly went south. Many of his investors “stayed quiet and lost their money with dignity,” says one of the investors. “They valued their friendship with the father over their investment.” 

But one investor didn’t. He says he asked Mr. Piedrahita frequently for information on how his investment was doing. Mr. Piedrahita avoided the issue, even claiming on one visit to Bogota from New York that he had forgotten to bring along the client’s accounts. Growing suspicious, the client says he hopped a plane to Manhattan, went to Mr. Piedrahita’s office and confronted his boss, asking for the information Mr. Piedrahita had avoided providing. “It was catastrophic,” the client says, remembering the state of his account.

Bottom line: Mr. Piedrahita lost his job, says the client, who recovered all his money. Mr. Piedrahita says eight clients lost a total of about $600,000. “Everybody has some bounces,” he says. “I sold something that turned out to be bad. I sold it with the best intentions, and it didn’t work. That’s the nature of commodities.” He disputes the client’s claim that he was fired from Balfour. “Not true,” he says. “I moved to Prudential Bache.”

Here’s an intriguing bit of history:

Friends say Mr. Piedrahita settled down after his marriage to Ms. Noel. He merged Littlestone with Fairfield Greenwich in 1997. Shortly after, he moved to London to a mansion on Chester Square. In Madrid, where he moved in 2003, Mr. Piedrahita’s lifestyle became even grander. He commuted between Madrid and London on a private Gulfstream jet which was parked at a military base close to Madrid. He was invited to a costume party at a Russian estate where everyone dressed up as czarist-era aristocrats. He went hunting for pheasants with the cream of Spanish society.

Relatives of Piedrahita have told me that he “had to leave Greenwich” and then “had to” flee London. Why? So far, no one’s talking.

But here’s the bottom line. The man was dirt poor, living above a delicatessen in New York, and sold penny stocks. No one sells penny stocks who isn’t a crook because, by their very nature, those securities are solely vehicles for fraud and price manipulation. So a poor, penniless crook meets up with Walter Noel, starts peddling Madoff “investments” and within a few years is flying around in Gulfstream II jets and hunting with the aristocracy. When crooks get rich, I suspect the worst, but Piedrahita denies everything:

“I look at myself in the morning, and I’m very proud of what I have done, and so are my partners,” says Mr. Piedrahita. Then he adds, referring to the Madoff scam: “Nobody knew anything about anything.”

Somehow, I think litigation and criminal investigations will eventually prove otherwise.

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Feds target Andy and Mark’s homes

No mention of their Greenwich homes but the feds are looking for at least $31 million from the boys, an amount loaned to them by papa to buy houses in NYC and Nantucket. Cherry Valley and Tomac Avenue next?

 

And, bye the bye, spoke with someone today who knows the Noel family quite well. Walter does not have Alzheimer’s, according to this source. Of interest is that the son in law, Andres Piedrahita, was long rumored within the family to be laundering money for his Colombian friends. He “was forced to leave Greenwich” in 1997, fled to England where something else happened to cause him to pull up stakes and flee again, this time to Spain. Anyone have details on these sudden departures?

Walter, this person says, is a harmless straight arrow, known to say such harsh things as “golly gee, Monica” when perturbed. You can believe it or not, but this story is that the guy was on the straight and narrow until son-in-law Andres insisted, based on the money he was pulling into the fund, on being made a partner at Fairfield Greenwich Group. It was downhill from there. Andres, not from wealth originally, suddenly had Bentleys, jets and mansions. Of course, Walter didn’t seem to be doing so badly either, until December 12th.

Update: as I was writing this, Guest of a Guest was sending me a link to its own article on Andres’ father. Not a nice guy, apparently.

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At 78, Walter won’t live to see the end of this

Reader Horse Hockey sends a Citifile link: yet another class action suit against Walter, his son in law Andres, partner Jeff Tucker and, of course, Fairfield Greenwich Group. No mention of Monica or the Fabulous Five though, and that must be a relief.

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We’ve said this all along

Surprise! Feeder funds fed Madoff because they thought he was front running. As I’ve suggested before, if you’re participating in a fraud, make certain you know who the victim is.

New York-based Fairfield Greenwich, which was founded by Walter Noel in 1983 and named after the county and city where he lives, was an international money machine. Its Fairfield Sentry Ltd. fund channeled all of its $7.3 billion in assets to Madoff, taking a cut of 1 percent of the total and 20 percent of the gains each year.

Family Ties

Noel, who declined to comment, built his global business in part on marriage. Three of his five daughters — who were profiled in a 2002 Vanity Fair piece titled “Golden in Greenwich” –married husbands who took Fairfield Greenwich’s business to far-flung lands.

One husband, Yanko Della Schiava, based in Lugano, Switzerland, was responsible for selling Fairfield’s offshore funds in Southern Europe, according to the firm’s Web site.

Another, Colombian-born Andres Piedrahita, led the European and Latin American businesses, working out of London and Madrid.

The third, Philip Toub, son of Swiss shipping magnate Said Toub, marketed the group’s funds in Brazil and the Middle East.

A fourth son-in-law, Matthew Brown, worked for the firm in New York.

For Madoff, the feeder funds weren’t only a way to gather money. They also enabled him to distance himself from individual investors. He didn’t like to socialize or hustle or answer questions, friends say.

Royal Treatment

The feeders were the gatekeepers, and they qualified for royal treatment. A money manager for a family office recalls accompanying Sonja Kohn, whose Vienna-based Bank Medici AG funneled $3.2 billion to Madoff, to a meeting with Madoff in New York in 1991.

He says Madoff treated her as if she were the Queen of England. The money manager also says Madoff wouldn’t answer any questions about his strategy.

A delegation from Credit Suisse Group AG, led by Oswald Gruebel, then head of private banking, had a similar experience in 2000. Gruebel, whose bank had about $500 million invested in Madoff funds at the time, wanted to know why the firm had an obscure auditor, why Madoff didn’t have a third-party custodian hold his clients’ assets and how much money he was running.

After the fifth or sixth query, people who were at the meeting say, Madoff ended the session.

Gruebel’s Warning

“You guys, if you are not happy with the returns you are getting,” he said, “you can take your money.”

Gruebel, 65, who retired as chief executive officer of Credit Suisse in 2007, urged clients to withdraw from Madoff’s funds, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Only about half of the money was taken out, the people say, indicating that many clients preferred Madoff’s returns to Gruebel’s advice.

That’s why it’s hard to weep for some of Madoff’s victims, says James Walsh, author of You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (Silver Lake, 1998), a study of Ponzi-scheme perpetrators and victims.

“We’ve become a nation of investors, but nobody wants to do the work of applying Benjamin Graham’s analysis tools,” Walsh says, referring to the father of value investing. “They want a genius to give them a shortcut. That’s what made it a target-rich environment for Madoff.”

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More from John Carney

Will someone kill Bernie Madoff? Carney points out that some of the people who lost big with Bernie are the type who don’t take losing well: Russian oligarchs, Colombian drug lords, tax evaders, etc. I don’t want to be too melodramatic here, but I’ve pointed out before that Walter Noel and particularly his sons-in-law seemed to specialize on peddling the FGG magic beans to the same crowd. If, as Carney speculates, angry losers can reach Madoff in a prison cell, can it be that much harder to find the guy on a sunny beach in Spain or, God forbid, a bucolic stretch of fly fishing water on the Madison?

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