Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernie Madoff Implicates Banks and Hedge Funds

The Correctional Facility that Houses Bernie Madoff
The NY Times is reporting that Bernie Madoff was interviewed in prison and has said that, at least some of, the banks and feeder funds knew he was operating a Ponzi scheme. This is not going to be well received by JP Morgan Chase who is being sued by the Madoff trustee who asserts the bank should have known or did know that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. Here are some key paragraphs from the article:

In many ways, however, Mr. Madoff seemed unchanged. He spoke with great intensity and fluency about his dealings with various banks and hedge funds, pointing to their “willful blindness” and their failure to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information available to them.

“They had to know,” Mr. Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”

While he acknowledged his guilt in the interview and said nothing could excuse his crimes, he focused his comments laserlike on the big investors and giant institutions he dealt with, not on the financial pain he caused thousands of his more modest investors. In an e-mail written on Jan. 13, he observed that many long-term clients made more in legitimate profits from him in the years before the fraud than they could have elsewhere. “I would have loved for them to not lose anything, but that was a risk they were well aware of by investing in the market,” he wrote.

Mr. Madoff said he was startled to learn about some of the e-mails and messages raising doubts about his results — now emerging in lawsuits — that bankers were passing around before his scheme collapsed.
“I’m reading more now about how suspicious they were than I ever realized at the time,” he said with a faint smile.

He did not assert that any specific bank or fund knew about or was an accomplice in his Ponzi scheme, which lasted at least 16 years and consumed about $20 billion in lost cash and almost $65 billion in paper wealth. Rather, he cited a failure to conduct normal scrutiny.

...In a message 10 days later, he was even more explicit about what he told the trustee's team: “I am saying that the banks and funds were complicit in one form or another.” 
Mr. Madoff’s claims must be weighed against his tenuous credibility. After deceiving federal regulators and supposedly sophisticated investors for at least 16 years, he would certainly be branded as a liar by defense lawyers if he appeared as a witness against any defendant in a courtroom — a fact he acknowledged somewhat ruefully during the interview on Tuesday.
The article also stated that Madoff shares a 12 square foot cell with another inmate. That sounds like pretty tight quarters to me. Certainly a big change from the life he lived before the scheme crash landed a little over two years ago.

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