Lucinda Franks has an interesting interview with an ex-Madoff employee, up today on The Daily Beast. Creepy company, in many odd ways. But Bernie paid them huge salaries while the legitimate business lost money and no one wanted to leave such a sugar daddy. The most interesting question for the future is how much Mark and Andy Madoff knew. If their trading firm never made enough profit to pay them such huge salaries, how did they think they were getting paid? The employee Franks interviews says they all wondered how Bernie could be making 8-12% while they were lucky to be cranking out 3-4%. Wondered, but never asked. Were the boys onto the scam? This man thinks so:
Ruth was the firm’s bookkeeper: “But I only saw her walk through once or twice,” Some friends of the employee, in hindsight, have said that Andrew and Mark must have known or suspected that things were not kosher. “They were educated guys, one of them had gone to Wharton, I think. They saw the balance sheets. We were making no money, some years losing it, and the brothers, I heard, were getting $4 million annually. That just didn’t track.”
“But I don’t want to believe that they knew or were involved,” the employee said. “I believe they’re innocent. They were really nice guys, they looked very straight. They treated me well even though as a computer programmer, I didn’t command the respect the hotshot traders did. When I told them I wanted to leave, Andrew tried to persuade me to stay and when I declined, he let me work only four days a week so I could start up my computer business.
I hope Franks will divert some of her investigative energies into Walter Noel’s operations. The woman is a talented writer (well, that might explain her Pulitzer prize) and is great at digging. Maybe if I promise her a gold-plated shovel she’ll come out to Round Hill and ask around.
My favorite bit from the interview?
“We all joked that the motto of the place was that ‘it was good to work for Bernie.”
You bet. Tough luck if you invested with him, too.