Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

In 2003, a research company met with J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent Wall Street financier who had earned a fortune investing his clients’ money with Bernard L Madoff. 
During the meeting, according to a new court filing, Mr. Merkin … warned the unnamed company never to “go long in a big way” with Mr. Madoff. He joked that “Charles Ponzi would lose out because it would be called the ‘Madoff scheme,’ ” according to notes from the meeting.*** 
Some new details came from a phone call Mr. Merkin recorded during the fall of 2005, between himself and Mr. Madoff. After a different Ponzi scheme came to light involving the Bayou Group, a hedge fund firm in Stamford, Conn., Mr. Merkin told Mr. Madoff that this would further stoke suspicions about his business.
“You know, I always tell people, as soon as there is a scam in the hedge fund industry, someone is going to call about Bernie. It’s guaranteed,”••• 

Also included in the trustee’s amended lawsuit is a recounting of a meeting between Mr. Merkin and representatives of Ivy Asset Management, another firm that steered money to Mr. Madoff. At the meeting, Ivy raised questions about the uncanny consistency of Mr. Madoff’s returns.
When Mr. Merkin likened Mr. Madoff to the wizard of Oz, an employee at Ivy said, “Toto is still tugging at the curtain.”
To which Mr. Merkin replied, “The curtain is winning.”
Until Madoff was finally arrested in 2008, Merkin and others kept feeding millions into the massive fraud. Merkin himself claims to have lost $100 million.

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