Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

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Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Mr. Mephistopheles » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:19 am

Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud
By Edith Honan and Dan Wilchins Edith Honan And Dan Wilchins
18 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.

The former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market is best known as the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. But he also ran a hedge fund that U.S. prosecutors said racked up $50 billion of fraudulent losses.

Madoff told senior employees of his firm on Wednesday that "it's all just one big lie" and that it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme," with estimated investor losses of about $50 billion, according to the U.S. Attorney's criminal complaint against him.

A Ponzi scheme is a swindle offering unusually high returns, with early investors paid off with money from later investors.

On Thursday, two agents for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation entered Madoff's New York apartment.

"There is no innocent explanation," Madoff said, according to the criminal complaint. He told the agents that it was all his fault, and that he "paid investors with money that wasn't there," according to the complaint.

The $50 billion allegedly lost would make the hedge fund one of the biggest frauds in history. When former energy trading giant Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, one of the largest at the time, it had $63.4 billion in assets.

U.S. prosecutors charged Madoff, 70, with a single count of securities fraud. They said he faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed separate civil charges against Madoff.

"Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud -- both in terms of scope and duration," said Scott Friestad, the SEC's deputy enforcer. "We are moving quickly and decisively to stop the scheme and protect the remaining assets for investors."

Dan Horwitz, Madoff's lawyer, told reporters outside a downtown Manhattan courtroom where he was charged, "Bernard Madoff is a longstanding leader in the financial services industry. We will fight to get through this unfortunate set of events."

A shaken Madoff stared at the ground as reporters peppered him with questions. He was released after posting a $10 million bond secured by his Manhattan apartment.

Authorities, citing a document filed by Madoff with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on January 7, 2008, said Madoff's investment advisory business served between 11 and 25 clients and had a total of about $17.1 billion in assets under management. Those clients may have included other funds that in turn had many investors.

The SEC said it appeared that virtually all of the assets of his hedge fund business were missing.

CONSISTENT RETURNS

An investor in the hedge fund said it generated consistent returns, which was part of the attraction. Since 2004, annual returns averaged around 8 percent and ranged from 7.3 percent to 9 percent, but last decade returns were typically in the low-double digits, the investor said.

The fund told investors it followed a "split strike conversion" strategy, which entailed owning stock and buying and selling options to limit downside risk, said the investor, who requested anonymity.

Jon Najarian, an acquaintance of Madoff who has traded options for decades, said "Many of us questioned how that strategy could generate those kinds of returns so consistently."

Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com, once tried to buy what was then the Cincinnati Stock Exchange when Madoff was a major seatholder on the exchange. Najarian met with Madoff, who rejected his bid.

"He always seemed to be a straight shooter. I was shocked by this news," Najarian said.

'UNFORTUNATE SET OF EVENTS'

Madoff had long kept the financial statements for his hedge fund business under "lock and key," according to prosecutors, and was "cryptic" about the firm. The hedge fund business was located on a separate floor from the market-making business.

Madoff has been conducting a Ponzi scheme since at least 2005, the U.S. said. Around the first week of December, Madoff told a senior employee that hedge fund clients had requested about $7 billion of their money back, and that he was struggling to pay them back.

Investors have been pulling money out of hedge funds, even those performing well, in an effort to reduce risk in their portfolios as the global economy weakens.

Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities has more than $700 million in capital, according to its website.

Madoff remains a member of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc's nominating committee, and his firm is a market maker for about 350 Nasdaq stocks, including Apple, EBay and Dell, according to the website.

The website also states that Madoff himself has "a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm's hallmark."

The company's website may be found here: http:/www.madoff.com/

(Additional reporting by Christian Plumb, Phil Wahba, Michelle Nichols and Dan Wilchins in New York and Rachelle Younglai in Washington; Editing by Andre Grenon, Bernard Orr & Kim Coghill)


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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Doktor Avalanche » Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:30 am

After hearing about crap like this, I'm supposed to feel good about capitalism because...?
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby wserra » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:00 pm

Doktor Avalanche wrote:After hearing about crap like this, I'm supposed to feel good about capitalism because...?


Because every little kid has the opportunity to grow up and steal billions.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby wserra » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:04 pm

Mr. Mephistopheles wrote:
"We are moving quickly and decisively to stop the scheme"


And a good thing, too. Otherwise the guy might have stolen Fort Knox.

I think the government uses the words "quickly" and "decisively" differently from the rest of us.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Mr. Mephistopheles » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:18 pm

CaptainKickback wrote:When I got home, I popped on CNBC and that was the big story and my first thought was, "HOLY SH*T!! That is huge!" My second thought was "Theft or ponzi scheme." The I heard the answer.

That is big time fraud. The only thing that prevents it from reaching the scale of Enron - in human terms - is that the hedge fund itself probably has a small staff and most of the incvestors are fairly well heeled. But, it is still a fiasco.

Not a good time to manage a hedge fund.


I noticed that Madoff started the firm in 1960, which would put him at about 22 years old. He was either a prodigy, or someone tossed him some seed money. :?:

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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby brady70 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:27 am

I have to add that the news really shock me. I mean this days we can not trust anybody. This guy scam was 50 billions! Why it took so long , I mean 50 billions to figure out he was just a fraud. No matter what happens he kept adding up profits to his funds. And he was the chairman of the Nasdaq stock market! Someone has to answer tough questions here.

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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby wserra » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:52 pm

An interesting account in today's Times about how something on this scale went on for so long.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby notorial dissent » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:31 pm

I guess I could say this is fascinating in a train wreck sort of way, but I find the details very confusing.

Are they saying there were $50 billion in fraudulent losses, or that $50 billion was actually lost by clients, either way the numbers are staggering, but it does make a difference in scope. If the loss was only on paper, then how much was actually invested and at risk, or if there was that much invested, then the loss is considerably greater.

Either way, this is certainly a monumental fraud. I guess Momma told him that if he was going to do something, do it big. My next question is how much money actually went where, are they saying that Madoff spent it all or hid it away, or was it ever there to begin with. This is right on par with the rogue brokers who sunk those London brokerages a couple of years ago trading currency for size.

The other thing I find amazing is that he was able to keep it buried for so long. That either requires a lot of money at play and going through, or people just really oblivious to what is going on around them.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby notorial dissent » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:55 am

Yes, I rather suspect the “investors” are what could politely be characterized as screwed. Since he was supposedly an investment advisor, he won’t come under SIPC, and I would bet he doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of insurance to cover this sort of thing, if he ever had anything even close. My personal suspicion is that the “investors” will be lucky if they get pennies on the dollar back.

I’m not familiar enough with the oversight these kind of operations get, obviously not much in NY, but then it was always my experience from working the field that NY had the most arcane and convoluted licensing/registration laws, and poorest oversight of any state in the union.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Red Cedar PM » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:40 am

Questions surround Madoff auditor
Small firm is now entangled in one of Wall Street's biggest scandals
The Associated Press
updated 5:34 p.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 17, 2008
NEW CITY, N.Y. - The office for Bernard Madoff's sole auditor exudes anything but wealth and intrigue: It is next door to a pediatrician in a drab suburban building. The tiny storefront is discreetly labeled "Friehling & Horowitz" on its single glass door.

The people milling around outside are not high-end investors; they are mothers with children, waiting for the doctor's office to open.

But the auditor, a 49-year-old accountant named David Friehling, is now enmeshed in one of Wall Street's biggest scandals and is under criminal investigation in a case that has left people in financial ruin around the world.

The fact that a such a small accounting business was the main auditor for Madoff's multibillion-dollar operation has emerged as one of the most mysterious elements of the case. Experts say it would be preposterous for a tiny firm to audit properly an operation the size of Madoff's.

"What if General Motors had a three-person accounting firm doing its audits?" said Jim Vos, CEO and head of research at the hedge fund consulting firm Aksia LLC in New York City, 30 miles south of this suburb.

Colleague Jake Walthour said, "Most hedge funds, even when they are small, use one of four or five big-name firms. And this wasn't one of them."

Calls to the firm have gone unanswered this week, and the storefront has been locked every day this week. On Wednesday, a notice of a failed UPS delivery was hung on the door.

Friehling's home nearby is on a private road that was blocked by a security car, and no one answered the phone.


Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, who is investigating the firm, said this week he did not know where Friehling was and had not had any contact with him. Zugibe's investigators were at the Friehling office Monday morning, knocking fruitlessly at the locked door.

If Friehling's independent audit reports were fraudulent, "You're dealing with some very serious felony offenses under state law," the district attorney said.

"When people make a decision on whether to invest, they do look to see that there was an independent auditor's report and whether or not it was objective and whether or not it basically laid out the strength of the company."


The accounting firm has not been charged, and the U.S. attorney's office would not confirm whether the business is under investigation.

Vos' company looked into Madoff's firm last year and warned investors off, finding several "red flags." One was the size of Friehling's firm. A private investigator reported to Aksia that there seemed to be one person working there. Phone calls were not returned until someone finally answered and said the firm was not open for business, Vos said.

"We found that there were just three employees, the two principals and a secretary," Vos said.

One of the principals, 80-year-old Jerome Horowitz, actually left the firm in 1997, state records show. He now lives in Florida and may be Friehling's father-in-law.

This stands in sharp contrast to big auditors such as Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG — established firms that have the manpower to handle a huge client like Madoff.

Vos also noted that Madoff had used a pre-existing licensed firm, unlike other frauds where swindlers created fictional auditing firms that issued fraudulent reports.

"It's a real firm, that's what's hilarious." he said. "Their story is going to be that they were fooled. ... It is possible."

Asked if the accountant could have been fooled by Madoff, the district attorney said, "Independent auditors don't depend on what they're given. They're supposed to dig into things."

The firm seems to have a clean record. Jane Briggs of the state Education Department, which licenses certified public accountants, says there has never been any disciplinary action — and none is pending — against Friehling or the firm.

The business has no current tax problems, and there is no record of judgments against it or a criminal record for Friehling.

Little is known about Friehling's other clients or how he came to be Madoff's auditor. State documents indicate that it is a firm engaged in the business of tax preparation, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing.

Friehling is a registered Democrat who voted this year and is a past president of the county chapter of the state CPA society. He is on the board of the Jewish Community Campus in West Nyack, a community center where spokesman David Kirschtel said Friehling is "a nice guy, generous, always supportive of the community."


Kirschtel said the group had not invested in the Madoff funds.

The district attorney, while acknowledging that his investigation was in its early stages, said, "It's a local accounting firm that may well be a critical partner in the largest financial fraud that we've ever seen."

Mitchell Gusler, a fellow member of the CPA society, said Wednesday he last saw Friehling at a chapter function in the first week of December.

"None of this makes any sense," he said.



How a one-CPA firm could audit such a huge operation with thousands of investors makes no sense to me. The CPA should be sitting in jail right next to Madoff. That this went on for so long makes me wonder why this wasn't caught as a result of a peer review of this CPA's workpapers either. The fact that this fund was "audited" by a one-person firm should have been a big red flag to investors, although I wonder if any of them actually looked at the audit reports.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby notorial dissent » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:14 am

The more I hear about this the harder I find it to believe. For all intents and purposes, he was operating out of a PMB.

I do not see any way that the accounting firm cannot be held as part of the crime, they cannot have honestly audited the books and not seen what was going on, or else they are so inept they need to have their ticket pulled, either way, they are culpable.

The list of victims is also getting more interesting as time goes on.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby The Operative » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:10 pm

I am thankful that I did not have any money invested with Madoff. To the best of my knowledge, none of the mutual funds that I am invested in had money with Madoff either. Looking at the story, the auditor was one of three things...

1) an incompetent idiot that doesn't know the first thing about proper audit techniques.

2) was paid millions to look the other way while providing audit reports.

3) subcontracted other CPAs to help perform audits with him as the lead.

If the first situation is correct, he will most likely lose his license and will be sued by Madoff's investors. If the second situation is correct, he will probably end up in prison along with losing his license and being sued by Madoff's investors. If the third situation is correct, which I find highly unlikely, he may be sued, he may lose his license, he may take others with him, but he has a better chance of winning suits and keeping his license. I think it is unlikely that he will be a practicing CPA ever again.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Red Cedar PM » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:20 pm

The Operative wrote:I am thankful that I did not have any money invested with Madoff. To the best of my knowledge, none of the mutual funds that I am invested in had money with Madoff either. Looking at the story, the auditor was one of three things...

1) an incompetent idiot that doesn't know the first thing about proper audit techniques.

2) was paid millions to look the other way while providing audit reports.

3) subcontracted other CPAs to help perform audits with him as the lead.

If the first situation is correct, he will most likely lose his license and will be sued by Madoff's investors. If the second situation is correct, he will probably end up in prison along with losing his license and being sued by Madoff's investors. If the third situation is correct, which I find highly unlikely, he may be sued, he may lose his license, he may take others with him, but he has a better chance of winning suits and keeping his license. I think it is unlikely that he will be a practicing CPA ever again.


Another thing I don't understand is if so companies and charities held so much money with this guy, why didn't the auditors of any of the investors request a SAS 70 audit report? A SAS 70 report is generally required to be obtained of any investment custodian where an auditee holds a material amount of investments that are subject to significant changes in value. A SAS 70 is a very intensive audit of all the internal controls and procedures at an investment custodian over how trades are processed and investments are held. There is no way a legitimate SAS 70 could have been done here without someone uncovering the scheme. The alternative to obtaining a SAS 70 would have been for the investors' auditor to test Madoff's controls themselves, which I am sure Madoff would have tried to avoid.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby The Operative » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:35 pm

Red Cedar PM wrote:
The Operative wrote:I am thankful that I did not have any money invested with Madoff. To the best of my knowledge, none of the mutual funds that I am invested in had money with Madoff either. Looking at the story, the auditor was one of three things...

1) an incompetent idiot that doesn't know the first thing about proper audit techniques.

2) was paid millions to look the other way while providing audit reports.

3) subcontracted other CPAs to help perform audits with him as the lead.

If the first situation is correct, he will most likely lose his license and will be sued by Madoff's investors. If the second situation is correct, he will probably end up in prison along with losing his license and being sued by Madoff's investors. If the third situation is correct, which I find highly unlikely, he may be sued, he may lose his license, he may take others with him, but he has a better chance of winning suits and keeping his license. I think it is unlikely that he will be a practicing CPA ever again.


Another thing I don't understand is if so companies and charities held so much money with this guy, why didn't the auditors of any of the investors request a SAS 70 audit report? A SAS 70 report is generally required to be obtained of any investment custodian where an auditee holds a material amount of investments that are subject to significant changes in value. A SAS 70 is a very intensive audit of all the internal controls and procedures at an investment custodian over how trades are processed and investments are held. There is no way a legitimate SAS 70 could have been done here without someone uncovering the scheme. The alternative to obtaining a SAS 70 would have been for the investors' auditor to test Madoff's controls themselves, which I am sure Madoff would have tried to avoid.


Which is why I think (2) is most likely. He was probably paid to look the other way and provide reports attesting to the controls. If I had been an accountant or auditor working for one of the companies or charities, I would have been very suspicious of an audit report that was not from one of the big 4. I would have at least checked the size of the CPA firm performing the audits.
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Prof » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50 pm

For more stories, see today's WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/public/us
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Nikki » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:16 pm

Did he actually "audit" the fund?

There's always the possibility he conducted one of the other types of financial reviews, which names escape me at present.

If it wasn't actually an "audit" where he certified the statements and issued a formal audit report, most bets are off except

Why would people invest in a fund that didn't have a formal audit report?

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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Red Cedar PM » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:26 pm

Nikki wrote:Did he actually "audit" the fund?

There's always the possibility he conducted one of the other types of financial reviews, which names escape me at present.

If it wasn't actually an "audit" where he certified the statements and issued a formal audit report, most bets are off except

Why would people invest in a fund that didn't have a formal audit report?


I am sure there were audited financial statements given to the investors who requested them. The fact that the fund was audited by a single shingle CPA who was probably in bed with Madoff should raise questions.

I still don't know why nobody ever asked this guy for a SAS 70 report, unless it was done by this same single shingle guy and the entire thing was fabricated. Even in that case the auditors of the investees should have been suspicious. Whenever an auditor has to rely on the work of another auditor they are supposed to consider several different things when choosing whether or not to rely on their reports. Whenever one of my audit clients has a fund investment like this we read a copy of the fund's latest financial statements and the auditor's report. We would also obtain a copy of the SAS 70 report of the investment custodian (in this case they would be one and the same, which would also seem very strange).

When looking at both reports we would consider who the CPA firm was who prepared and opined on the reports. I have never seen a SAS 70 or investment fund financial statement prepared by a firm other than a Big 4 or large regional/national CPA firm.
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Grixit wrote:Hey Diller: forget terms like "wages", "income", "derived from", "received", etc. If you did something, and got paid for it, you owe tax.

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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Sun Jan 04, 2009 6:46 am

Nikki wrote:....

Why would people invest in a fund that didn't have a formal audit report?


Don't discount the religious affinity angle among the Jewish community. There's an enormous amount of snob appeal coupled with faith involved here. For some, if you weren't a client, you weren't really "in."
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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Red Cedar PM » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:30 pm

Madoff's auditor... doesn't audit?
The three-person firm that apparently certified Madoff's books has been telling a key accounting industry group for years that it doesn't conduct audits.
By Alyssa Abkowitz
Last Updated: December 19, 2008: 1:52 PM ET
(Fortune) -- The three-person auditing firm that apparently certified the books of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, the shuttered home of an alleged multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, is drawing new scrutiny.

Already under investigation by local prosecutors for its potential role in the scandal, the firm, Friehling & Horowitz, is now also being investigated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the prestigious body that sets U.S. auditing standards for private companies.

The problem: The auditing firm has been telling the AICPA for 15 years that it doesn't conduct audits.

The AICPA, which has more than 350,000 individual members, monitors most firms that audit private companies. (Public-company auditors are overseen, as the name suggests, by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which was created in 2003 in response to accounting scandals involving WorldCom and Enron.)

Some 33,000 firms enroll in the AICPA's peer review program, in which experienced auditors assess each firm's audit quality every year. Forty-four states require accountants to undergo reviews to maintain their licenses to practice.

Friehling & Horowitz is enrolled in the program but hasn't submitted to a review since 1993, says AICPA spokesman Bill Roberts. That's because the firm has been informing the AICPA -- every year, in writing -- for 15 years that it doesn't perform audits.

Meanwhile, Friehling & Horowitz has reportedly done just that for Madoff. For example, the firm's name and signature appears on the "statement of financial condition" for Madoff Securities dated Oct. 31, 2006. "The plain fact is that this group hasn't submitted for peer review and appears to have done an audit," Roberts says. AICPA has now launched an "ethics investigation," he says.

As it happens, New York is one of only six states that does not require accounting firms to be peer-reviewed. But on the heels of the Madoff revelations, on Tuesday, the New York State senate passed legislation that requires such a process. (The bill now awaits Gov. David Paterson's signature.) "We've not been regulated in the fashion we should've inside the state," says David Moynihan, president-elect of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.

David Friehling, the only active accountant at Friehling & Horowitz, according to the AICPA, might seem like an odd person to flout the institute's rules. He has been active in affiliated groups: Friehling is the immediate past president of the Rockland County chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and sits on the chapter's executive board.

Friehling, who didn't return calls seeking comment, is rarely seen at his office, according to press reports. The 49-year-old, whose firm is based 30 miles north of Manhattan in New City, N.Y., operates out of a 13-by-18-foot office in a small plaza.

A woman who works nearby told Bloomberg News that a man who dresses casually and drives a Lexus appears periodically at Friehling & Horowitz's office for about 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch and then leaves. (State automobile records indicate that Friehling owns a Lexus RX.) The Rockland County District Attorney's Office has opened an investigation to see if the firm committed any state crimes.

People who know Friehling, through the state accounting chapter and through the Jewish Community Center in Rockland County (where he's a board member) were reluctant to discuss him. Most members of both boards wouldn't comment except to say they were surprised by Friehling's connection to Madoff.

"He's nothing but the nicest guy in the world," says David Kirschtel, chief executive of JCC Rockland. "I've never had any negative dealings with him."


Yet another investor failure in due diligence - if you don't know the auditor you always have the right to request an independence letter and a copy of their most recent peer review report (which would not have existed here).
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--Dantonio 11:03:07

Grixit wrote:Hey Diller: forget terms like "wages", "income", "derived from", "received", etc. If you did something, and got paid for it, you owe tax.

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Re: Bernard Madoff arrested over alleged $50 billion fraud

Postby Demosthenes » Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:23 pm

Monday, January 05, 2009
US govt to NY judge: Jail Madoff without bail
By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press writer

NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor says disgraced financier Bernard Madoff violated bail conditions by mailing about $1 million worth of jewelry and other assets to relatives. The prosecutor wants him jailed without bail.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Litt made the request to revoke Madoff's bail at a hearing in federal court on Monday. Madoff has been under house arrest.
There was no immediate decision on the government's request.
Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, described the items as heirlooms that included cufflinks and antique watches. Sorkin said they were not significant assets.
The 70-year-old former Nasdaq stock market chairman, who was arrested Dec. 11 on securites fraud charges, is accused of duping investors out of as much as $50 billion in a giant Ponzi scheme.
Demo.


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