March 31, 2009

Now, That's Gutsy

SINCE I LAST POSTED REGULARLY, the scandal over the immense Ponzi scheme which Bernard Madoff ran has in many ways come and gone. As we now know, Mr Madoff has been exposed as not merely a charlatan and fraud, but a twisted, ruthless sociopath whose depravity involved not just stealing from honest people but also from charities, religious endeavors, and other good institutions. As such -- if I may be permitted to borrow from Mencken -- it is The Rant's belief that Mr Madoff should be thrown off the top of the Washington Monument.

The Rant further believes that should Mr Madoff be found to have further accomplices, and said accomplices are found guilty of criminality in a court of law due to their actions in connection with the Ponzi scheme, that they should be beaten and paraded throughout the streets of New York, so that the people may revile them.

As for the rest of it -- well, I feel badly for the victims. If you read their e-mails to Judge Chin, many of them are heartbreaking; and they did not, after all, deserve to have their money stolen. But for the life of me, I can't understand why people would sink all their eggs into one basket.

For a moment, let's say Madoff truly had been a genius. Even if he had, why would any sane person put more than 10 percent or even 20 percent of their wealth under his control? It's not like other supposed sure things haven't blown up before, and we're talking sure things run by incredibly smart people. Things happen even if your investment manager isn't a crook. I know that many people hate dealing with money, particularly their own, but the old quip that "no one cares about your money as much as you" remains very valid, even in this day and age.

However, there was one e-mail in particular that made me laugh. It's on Page 36 of this helpful legal document. It gave me a chuckle for a couple of reasons. One, if it just happened to fall into the Southern District's e-mail box, it boils this case down to its nuts and bolts. Two, if a victim actually sent it in as a satire on the present situation, it is a work of genius. And three, its inclusion shows why the Government can never be relied upon to prevent such things before they happen -- because they miss things, even in situations when they shouldn't.

The letter reads, in part:

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Mr ---------- but my origin is from the Republic of Congo. I have an inherited fund I want to invest in a business in your country with the help of a local. I don't know about business but I found it wise to invest the funds in your country with your collaboration with me.

Ever since I move to Dubai due to the problem in my country, I have not been able to invest the funds in Dubai due to security reasons. Now I am seeking foreign assistance to transfer the funds to your country based on the news of their development. If you can assist, I am willing to give you 10% of the funds that is US$3.5 million ....

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 31, 2009 01:48 AM | TrackBack
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