The Madoff affair: Going down quietly

Bernard Madoff, history's biggest swindler, faces life behind bars

SURELY a drama this dark deserved a more explosive finale. A previous wave of financial fraud produced many an entertaining courtroom battle, featuring the likes of Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling and Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski. But Bernard Madoff has robbed the world of such a catharsis, just as he robbed almost 5,000 credulous clients of billions of dollars. On Thursday March 12th he pleaded guilty in a Manhattan court to 11 charges, ranging from securities and mail fraud to money laundering and perjury. Together they carry a maximum jail term of 150 years, leaving the 70-year-old “Monster Mensch” all but certain to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The fraud he masterminded was remarkable for its scale, longevity and the sophistication of its victims: hedge-fund founders, Swiss banks and movie moguls, as well as charities and small investors, some of whom put in their life savings. The charge sheet confirms that he ran a Ponzi scheme of unprecedented boldness, dating at least as far back as the 1980s. Mr Madoff claimed to achieve healthy, stable returns through a whizzy stock- and options-trading strategy. In reality, there was no trading for well over a decade. Money from new investors was used to cover redemptions for old ones. It was that simple and brazen. ...


[Source: The Economist: News analysis - Posted by FreeAutoBlogger]

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