Sunday, December 14, 2008

More on Madoff

The fallout from a stunning $50 billion swindle - allegedly engineered by Bernard Madoff - is turning into a global pandemic.

International banks, hedge funds and small-time investors from Japan to Switzerland emerged yesterday as potential victims in what's being called history's largest Ponzi scheme.

The international losses alone could be more than $8 billion.

Just in Geneva, banks reportedly may be out of $4 billion invested with Madoff.

Tokyo's Nomura Holdings, which reportedly recently began marketing Madoff's fund abroad, also is swept up in the financial wipeout.

And Bermuda's Kingate Management had invested part of its $2.8 billion fund with Madoff.

"It's overwhelming. We have been interviewing people from as far away as Argentina, London - of course, Palm Beach and the New York area - up and down the Eastern seaboard, and out West," said attorney Mark Mulholland, who has filed a class-action suit against Madoff in federal court in Long Island.

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that Madoff's investment business hasn't been inspected by the Securities and Exchange Commission since he registered with the agency in September 2006, according to Bloomberg News.

Generally, the SEC scrutinizes a newly registered firm's books in the first year and then checks them at least every five years.

Madoff's brokerage firm - which is separate from the investment business - was found to have three violations in a 2005 inspection for violating rules on trade prices. But the company was inspected last year without a claim.

While the effects of the alleged scam were felt worldwide, the brunt of its effect is being felt among wealthy country-club investors Madoff cultivated on Long Island and in South Florida.

Some of the Big Apple's wealthiest individuals and institutions may have been duped, including Yeshiva University - on whose board Madoff sat - Mets owner Fred Wilpon and the former owners of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain.

Other notables who have reportedly been stung by the collapse of Madoff's fund are Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and members of New York's Loeb family.

Sources say Kay Windsor founder Carl Shapiro lost $400 million, and Nine West founder Jerome Fisher, who lives in Palm Beach, Fla., lost $150 million.

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System on Long Island and the Texas-based Julian J. Levitt Foundation are also believed to have lost millions.

"The numbers we are hearing from these victims in terms of losses are in the hundreds of millions absolutely," Mulholland said.

American hedge funds were far from immune.

Maxam Capital Management, of Darien, Conn., may have lost $280 million and has been forced to close. The Fairfield Greenwich Group in Connecticut had part of its $7.5 billion fund invested with Madoff. And New York-based Access International also lost an unknown amount.

The SEC has seized Madoff's assets and Lee Richards has been named receiver to go through Madoff's books to determine who is entitled to surviving funds.

Investors anxious about their investments have been urged to call Richards at (214) 647-7511.

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