Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh My Goodness ($50 Billion)

UPDATE: Madoff is also the chairman at YU's Sy Syms School of Business. I'd assume that will now be a was.

That's what Elianna would say if she understood securities fraud and Ponzi schemes... this could impact the Jewish community in a very big, bad way:
Bernard L. Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market and a force in Wall Street trading for nearly 50 years, was arrested by federal agents Thursday, a day after his sons turned him in for running what they said their father called "a giant Ponzi scheme."

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a civil complaint, said it was an ongoing $50 billion swindle, and asked a judge to seize the firm and its assets. "Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions," said Andrew M. Calamari, associate director of enforcement in the SEC's New York office.
Bernie Madoff was not only viewed as a very respected, trusted guy on Wall Street, but almost everybody was invested with him. CNBC has a good clip on this article explaining what happened and what Madoff is about. More importantly for the Jewish community, a very large number of Jewish people were invested with him. He was viewed as a guy who got steady positive returns, as the firm would announce profits of about 11% consistently each year for fifteen years, and that enticed large numbers of fund of funds (hedge funds which invest in other hedge funds) and high-net-worth individuals to invest with him.

Madoff apparently realized that it was going down recently, as large numbers of people withdrew funds due to the market, and called in his sons. They called the FBI, who came in. DealBreaker has an excerpt from the FBI memo about it, which is kind of sad... at least Madoff was honest about his dishonesty and expects to go to jail. CNBC and a commenter on DB both note that the supposed auditor was a small office in Monsey/Rockland County.

Just as an idea of how much of an effect we're talking about... a commenter noted that a family he knows had $50 million with Madoff. Families in New York and Florida had millions. The Mets' owner is rumored to have had a billion dollars with him. DB (which can be VERY sarcastic) lists the "victims", ending with JEWS. And the Post started its piece with "Suicide hotlines in Greenwich, Conn., could be lit up today as investors in the posh suburb begin to realize how much they've lost in the rip-off scheme perpetrated by Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff."

This is going from bad to OMG... really, really fast.

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