Reuters Funds Summit: Madoff, the silent presence

March 17, 2009

Master-fraudster Bernie Madoff is the invisible guest at an annual fund fest in Luxembourg, the European capital for fund administration.

Even though the former Nasdaq chairman is under arrest thousands of miles away from this discreet financial centre nestled between Belgium, France and Germany, his presence was omnipresent. Fund managers just can’t stop mentioning him.

 One example: “The hedge fund bubble has popped. The market bubble has popped, and to put a cherry on the top you had the Madoff probe in December,” said Ken Kinsley-Quick from hedge fund Thames River Capital.

Other speakers have gone into deep soul-searching, accepting that more transparency and due diligence is needed. But few would openly beat their chest and admit any wrongdoing as they all seemed to agree that if the Securities and Exchange Commission could not catch Madoff’s wrong doing over 20 years, no-one could.

“Except for a few whistle blowers no-one had expected anything. I really do not think that custodians did not take their role seriously. But it’s not helping the industry,” Yves Francis, a partner from Deloitte said.

Even Luxembourg’s budget minister, Luc Frieden, got into the act, suggesting that a deal should be made out of court to compensate Madoff investors who had gone through Luxembourg-based investment vehicles.

He clearly wanted Madoff to just go away.

(Reuters photo: Mike Segar)

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