Just when you thought the auto industry’s $35 billion bailout request sounded astronomical; when Blagojevich arrived on the scene as a new shoe-in for the heavily contended 2008 ClownLouse of the Year award; when we’d kind of almost forgotten about bailing out the banks earlier this year… Wall Street took back the headlines with news of the largest Ponzi (pyramid) scheme in history, to the tune of $50 billion dollars.
Bernard Madoff, former Chairman of the NASDAQ, was arrested last week for allegedly engineering an investment fraud scheme that may date back to the 1970’s. How someone managed to perpetrate such a long-standing and far-reaching fraud scheme raises serious questions about the efficacy of the SEC, which seems to have been asleep at the switch an awful lot in recent history. While sending Martha Stewart to jail may be a shining moment for investment fraud investigators, that daring nab is slightly overshadowed by fiascos like Enron, the Bear Stearns bailout, the mortgage crisis, and – last but most assuredly not least – Bernard Madoff.
Madoff was turned in by his sons after he admitted to them that his investment advisory business was “a giant Ponzi scheme.” Although both sons worked for Madoff’s company, it seems they were in the dark on the fraud… until Madoff decided to tell them about it, that is.
While many would assume that Madoff would be in custody, he is instead back at home in Manhattan with his wife Ruth. But he has a curfew, so apparently bilking investors for $50 billion dollars gets you the same punishment as taking the skinny kid’s lunch money on the playground. No word on whether he was made to stand in the corner before heading home.
And so it is that Bernard Madoff wins a Fantasy T-Wearer award, with the “Cook The Books” sweatshirt here at left. And we’ll give a second award to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox for, quite literally, passing the buck. Or $50 million of them.
Congratulations, gentlemen. You’ve certainly earned it.