Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Madoff Worked It

The owners of the New York Mets fed clients and money to Bernie Madoff through a family company, Sterling Equities. This story (in the NY Times sports rather than business section) offers some details.

Why did Madoff operate through "feeders?" In Sterling's case the company staunchly defended Madoff from contact with his clients.

What kind of clients did Madoff want his feeders to turn away? Sophisticated investors. Too nosy.

What annual investment returns did Madoff promise or seem to provide? The Times offers figures from several sources:
  • Sterling's partners: around 18%
  • Larry King's accountant: 10-14%
  • Unidentified client: 9-12%
  • Former Sterling employee investing via 401(k) plan: 12-15%
By the end of 2008 about 90% of Sterling's 401(k) plan was invested with Madoff.

Hard to tell, even now, which banks, clients, feeders and SEC staffers should have recognized what Madoff was up to. What becomes ever clearer is that few wanted to know.

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