Posted by The Web Guy
The former Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jacobs of Belgravia today revealed that he was a victim of Bernie Madoff, the American fraudster whose $50 billion scam has plunged New York and London investment markets into turmoil. As investigators in the United States and London continued their probe into Madoff’s affairs, Lord Jacobs disclosed to the Evening Standard that he had suffered “a real loss”.
He declined to put a figure on the amount but said: “It’s not peanuts,” reflecting the fact that Madoff demanded at least $1 million from his wealthy clients and encouraged them to invest $10 million or more.
The 78-year-old peer is spending Christmas at his holiday home in Palm Beach, Florida, where he first met Madoff. “Such a charming man,” he said. “He was obviously very wealthy but he didn’t live high on the hog. I used to see him and we’d chat. He seemed like a very nice guy.”
Lord Jacobs, whose fortune was estimated at £128 million in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, prospered with businesses including the British School of Motoring and fast food chains - Spudulike was one of his brands. He is thought to have given the Liberals and Lib-Dems more than £1 million over the past 20 years but he recently left the party to become a crossbencher. He cited differences with leader Nick Clegg over tax policies.
Like many casualties of 70-year-old Madoff’s fraud, Lord Jacobs was drawn into the scheme through social contacts in the wealthy Jewish community in Palm Beach. This was one of the main centres of Madoff’s operations where, according to the Standard’s inquiries, he operated with a cynicism that was breathtaking. While he and his wife Ruth were befriending people, his so-called fund was robbing them.
Now friends, such as Lord Jacobs, are left wondering how much the elegant and highly-likeable Mrs Madoff knew about what was happening. “It seems impossible that he could have acted alone,” Lord Jacobs said. “I found Ruth a rather quiet lady, concerned with her charity work. But she’s certainly no fool and his sons were closely involved in the business.”
We don’t know if this Lord is a MOT, but Wikipedia notes he has an honorary degree from the University of Haifa
We’ll let Lord Jacobs have the last word:
“I don’t suppose I shall see him again,” Lord Jacobs said, “but if I did I should like to ask him this: ‘Bernie, you had a very good business. You were doing so well. Why did you do it?’”
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December 29, 2008 | 3:43 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
I can’t imagine anyone is going to feel too choked up over Bernard Madoff’s loss of the statue pictured. From the New York Post:
Swindler extraordinaire Bernard Madoff got a taste of his own medicine last weekend when a burglar stole a $10,000 statue from his posh, $9.4 million Palm Beach estate, according to a police report.
The theft occurred sometime between 3 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, a week after Madoff confessed to ripping off $50 billion from investors in a decades-long Ponzi scheme.
The five-foot, copper artwork overlooked the Madoffs’ inground pool, and portrays two young lifeguards sitting on a raised stand.
Madoff is currently under house arrest at his $7 million Park Avenue apartment.
He also owns a $3 million oceanfront estate in Montauk, LI, which has been pummeled by severe beach erosion. The surrounding estates have been largely spared.
December 26, 2008 | 2:59 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Shortly after the Madoff scandal broke, the name Elie Wiesel was mentioned in the discussion of notable Jews who’d lost a ton of cash as a result of the massive Ponzi scheme. It wasn’t Wiesel personal money, but that of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s foundation. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported just how much money the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity lost: “substantially all.”
“We are deeply saddened and distressed that we, along with many others, have been the victims of what may be one of the largest investment frauds in history. We are writing to inform you that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity had $15.2 million under management with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. This represented substantially all of the Foundation’s assets.”
Somehow, the foundation said in a statement that it will carry on and won’t be distracted from its mission. Not sure how they’re going to pay the rent.
December 25, 2008 | 3:51 am
Posted by The Web GuyI want to thank Brad Greenberg, David Suissa, Danielle Berrin, Rob Eshman, Dean Rotbart and Tom Teicholz for their hard work on this (experimental?) group blog and make sure they know all the hard work has paid off.
|Top Search Terms, Christmas Eve 2008|
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December 24, 2008 | 5:25 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
And here ... we ... go:
Hedge fund executive Ezra Merkin has been sued again for entrusting investments with confessed swindler Bernard Madoff, this time by New York University, which said it lost about $24 million.
The lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court is among a series against Merkin and other funds during the past week as investors seek to recover losses from the purported $50 billion Madoff scandal that would be Wall Street’s biggest fraud.
A judge issued a temporary order on Wednesday, barring Merkin from liquidating Ariel Fund Ltd, named in the lawsuit by New York University, which calls itself the largest private university in the United States.
The order, which expires on January 6, will have no impact on plans announced December 18 to wind down the Ariel fund, Merkin’s attorney Andrew Levander said in a statement. He said the investment manager would not receive fees and attorneys had promised to preserve documents.
“Mr. Merkin remains committed to obtaining for shareholders the best results possible in the wake of the terrible fraud committed by Bernard Madoff,” the statement said.
Madoff, a 70-year-old investment adviser and former chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, was arrested on December 11 and charged with securities fraud. Authorities said Madoff confessed to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme in which early investors were paid off with the money from new clients.
He is under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment on $10 million bail.
Investors can also make claims for money lost with Madoff through the Securities Investor Protection Corp (SIPC), which is overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC via a court-appointed trustee.
A U.S. bankruptcy court judge on Tuesday authorized the nonprofit group, created by Congress in 1970, to mail claim forms to customers in the first week of January. Customers have six months to return the forms.
“They will return those claim forms to the trustee with data indicating what they believe they were owed, how much they put in, how much they withdrew,” said Stephen Harbeck, SIPC president and chief executive. “Since the records in this case are unreliable, the more information people can get us the faster we will be able to satisfy the claim.”
December 24, 2008 | 3:46 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Bernard Madoff made the cover of The Journal this week. Not that he didn’t dominate the inside pages last week, but as our editor in chief, Rob Eshman, told the L.A. Times: “In a word, it’s a catastrophe—by far the biggest Jewish story of the year.”
I’d actually venture that it’s the biggest story in years, and I anticipate it dominating my reportage for the next few weeks.
Here is the opening of my most recent contribution:
The stock market had been hammered for more than a year, but the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) was doing relatively well, David Polak, chair of the JCF’s investment committee, told the board of directors early this month.
The JCF’s common investment pool, which manages the endowments for some of Los Angeles Jewry’s biggest social service agencies, was down for the year—but only by about 19 percent. Its performance could be attributed, at least in part, to one of the investment pool’s money managers. Polak didn’t identify this apparent financial all-star, which in terrible economic times had managed this year to produce almost a double-digit return on investment.
But less than 10 days later, everyone knew the name: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.
Last week, as the largest Ponzi scheme in history claimed hundreds of millions of dollars from Jewish organizations and institutions, the JCF reported it had lost an $18 million investment that had grown to $25.5 million on paper. Overnight, 9 percent of the money some L.A. Jewish nonprofits use to generate cash for their programs vanished.
“No one is happy, including us,” said Marvin Schotland, JCF president and CEO. “But there has been an enormous amount of understanding about the unique set of circumstances that caused this to occur that could not have been foreseen or expected. It’s a testament to the strength of the community, at least with respect to donors who have funds with us.”
“They have not been engaged with blaming,” he said. “They have not been happy, but they have understood this is an aberration.”
The article goes on to discuss how the foundation came to invest a portion of its common-investment pool in Madoff and exactly what this is going to mean for participating organizations like Jewish Family Services. You can read the rest here.
December 22, 2008 | 4:23 pm
Posted by Tom Teicholz
Last night at a dinner party, the talk was about Madoff, as I’m sure it is at Hannukah parties and Holiday get-togethers everywhere.
One attendee who had a long and storied career in finance told me that he knew Madoff and was shocked—“Madoff was a pillar,” he said, “He was head of Nasdaq!” But all those years of returns, didn’t that make you suspicious? I asked. “I never thought it was a Ponzi scheme,” he said, “What I thought was going on was that he was front-running…, that’s how I thought he got those returns” (“front running is a form of trading, which is illegal, and consists of making trades ahead of a large order, in order to get a better price and make a profit. In Madof’s case, since he controlled such large investments, he had the power to make make large trades and to know those large trades were about to happen).
Another guest, who works in the literary and difital world had a more charitable take on things: “Madoff did what he did, not because he wanted to do bad and defraud clients, but because he wanted to do good and couldn’t deliver and then fell behind…..”
And as he said it, a lightbulb of sorts went off in my head. Madoff liked being the guy who delivered 10% returns come hell or high water. Madoff liked being “Uncle Bernie,” the so-called “Jewish T-Bill.” Madoff like being the philanthropist who gave to Jewish charities, who helped people,. who made a difference.
And in order to maintain being Bernie Madoff, Madoff needed cash, Madoff needed new investors. Madoff built a giant Ponzi scheme.
In the end Madoff was no different than Whitey Ford who cut his ball, and greased his hair to rub it on the ball, to insure that he could deliver the strikes he was famous for. Even Bernie Madoff could not support being Bernie Madoff.
December 22, 2008 | 4:07 pm
Posted by Tom Teicholz