Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Where did all the “Madoff” money go?

Erin Arvedlund- Erin Arvedlund is a journalist who has worked for Dow Jones, The Moscow Times, TheStreet.com, Barron's and the New York Times.  She is author of "Too Good to be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff". The opinions expressed are her own. -

Where did all the money go?

After I wrote "Madoff: The Man Who Stole $65 Billion" this was probably the first question I received from almost everyone. And I am forced to tell the bizarre truth: there's probably no money left.

This is the nature of what are known as "Ponzi" schemes, or a classic pyramid scheme--Bernard Madoff constantly had to raise money from new investors to cash out the old investors, or "redeem" them, as a traditional hedge fund or mutual fund would.

But Madoff was not running a traditional hedge fund--not at all. He was running a cash-in/cash-out fraud, using the London branch of his brokerage firm as the piggy bank where he would wire money to and fro to make it look like he was trading for the hedge fund.

But there was no hedge fund, and there was no $65 billion at the end. Madoff lied about the amount of assets he was overseeing.

from Funds Hub:

Free from fraud? Get the certificate

Hedge funds wishing to demonstrate their honesty to a sceptical world can now pay for a risk assessment to show they have a low risk of fraud.

rtr23yfeFor $15,000-$20,000 Protean Fraud Risk Appraisal will use its database of every such financial crime since 1997 to see if a fund shows any suspicious characteristics.

"We've evaluated every single fraud and worked out the common areas where fraud has arisen," partner Nathan Sewell tells me.

The end of the Davos consensus

– James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

James Saft Great Debate It’s not exactly a wake, but participants at this year’s World Economic Forum have witnessed many of their most cherished beliefs being challenged, upended and sometimes ground in the mud.

Think of it as the “Davos Consensus,” a loose alignment of principles that held sway in this Swiss mountain resort and in large parts of the world over the past decade.

Minimizing exposure to investment management fraud

williams_mark– Mark T. Williams, a finance professor at the Boston University School of Management, is a risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank examiner.  The opinions expressed are his own. —

It looks like the oldest trick in the book was used to allegedly bilk wealthy investors, banks, charities, endowments, and hedge funds out of their money.  How could sophisticated investors have been duped by what could potentially be the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history?  The answer may center on their due diligence prior to signing up with the investment firm run by Bernard Madoff, accused of masterminding the massive fraud.

Due diligence is the rigorous process undertaken to evaluate the controls, credibility, and capabilities of an investment firm prior to putting money at risk.  This process doesn’t stop once a money manager is chosen, but continues over the life of the relationship.  The $50 billion in reported losses and the fact that this scheme went undetected for so long are stark reminders that there is no substitute for solid investor due diligence and ongoing monitoring.  Unfortunately, it has taken a down market to expose such fraud.

  •