Money managers under the microscope
Money managers were drawn by Madoff’s air of mystique, his stellar reputation as a market timer, the apparently steady returns with rock bottom volatility and the absence of fees, which some collected from clients anyway.
Those wanting more could simply have increased allocations but some chose to create new investment vehicles instead. Behind the banks and asset managers which lost money, some names appear again and again.
Take the circle of managers revolving around Sandra Manzke, founder of Tremont, whose Rye unit lost substantially all of its roughly $3 billion in assets.
Tremont and Bermuda-based Kingate Management also set up Kingate Global, a Madoff feeder which lost $2.7 billion, and Manzke was on the board of the fund, the Financial Times reported earlier this year.
Manzke’s presence at the founding of Kingate was confirmed by a source close to Kingate who asked not to be named.
In 2006 Manzke left Tremont to found Maxam Capital, a Madoff feeder widely reported to have lost $280 million.
Returning to Kingate, there were other less well-known names who were also caught out by the Madoff bug. One was Christopher Wetherhill, president and director of Kingate Management and a director of Kingate Global and of another Madoff feeder, Kingate Euro.
Wetherhill was also founder and, until 2000, chief executive of Hemisphere Management Ltd, once reputedly the third-largest hedge funds administrator in the world, overseeing assets of over $51 billion, including those of the Kingate funds.
Thus Wetherhill could know how and where Kingate money was invested, as well as what happened to the commissions the company took in over the years.
Former Kingate clients are anxious to locate these commissions, one lawyer acting for them has told Reuters. He estimated they could total as much as $500 million.
The bulk of Kingate’s assets were sourced through its consultant, FIM Advisers, a London-based asset manager founded by Carlo Grosso and Federico Ceretti.
FIM has played down its relationship with Kingate but two sources familar with the situation have told Reuters that Grosso and Ceretti were synonymous with Kingate and had been present at its founding.
When Wetherhill left the helm of Hemisphere, he was replaced by Tom Healy, who later became chief operating officer and a board member of FIM.
Wetherhill is also the named by Madoff Trustee Irving Picard as the contact point for Whitechapel Management Ltd, a Bermuda-based firm which appears on Picard’s long list of Madoff clients.
Another ubiquitous presence in the FIM-Kingate-Tremont triangle is New York lawyer Michael Tannenbaum, a founding partner of the law firm Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse and Hirschtritt LLP.
Kingate’s fund offering documents say Tannenbaum, an outside director of the manager since 2000, is a senior partner of a law firm that advises both funds, the manager (Kingate) and the consultant (FIM), a potential conflict of interests.
Tannenbaum’s firm is also legal counsel for affiliates of Tremont and Rye.
Perhaps understandably, none of those named is keen to revisit their Madoff experience, nor their links with each other.
Wetherhill offered a no comment, as did a spokesman for Manzke. Calls and emails to Tannenbaum went unanswered.
Numerous calls to FIM have not been returned, and questions on the relationship between Kingate, FIM and Hemisphere emailed to the company’s general counsel Philip Niel remain unanswered.