BUTNER, N.C. — Bernard L. Madoff said he never thought the collapse of his Ponzi scheme would cause the sort of destruction that has befallen his family.
In his first interview for publication since his arrest in December 2008, Mr. Madoff — looking noticeably thinner and rumpled in khaki prison garb — maintained that family members knew nothing about his crimes.
But during a private two-hour interview in a visitor room here on Tuesday, and in earlier e-mail exchanges, he asserted that unidentified banks and hedge funds were somehow “complicit” in his elaborate fraud, an about-face from earlier claims that he was the only person involved in the fraud.
Mr. Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence, seemed frail and a bit agitated compared with the stoic calm he maintained before his incarceration in 2009, perhaps burdened by sadness over the suicide of his son Mark in December. In many ways, however, he is unchanged. He spoke with great intensity and fluency about his dealings with various banks and hedge funds. In asserting the complicity of others, Mr. Madoff in the interview pointed to the “willful blindness” of many banks and hedge funds who dealt with his investment advisory business and their failure to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information available to them.
“They had to know,” Mr. Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”
While he acknowledged his guilt in the interview and said nothing could excuse his crimes, he focused his comments laserlike on the big investors and giant institutions he dealt with, not on the financial pain he caused thousands of his more modest investors. In an e-mail written on Jan. 13, he observed that many long-term clients made more in legitimate profits from him in the years before the fraud than they could have elsewhere. “I would have loved for them to not lose anything, but that was a risk they were well aware of by investing in the market,” he wrote.
Mr. Madoff said he was startled to learn about some of the e-mails and messages raising doubts about his results — now emerging in lawsuits — that bankers were passing around before his scheme collapsed.
“I’m reading more now about how suspicious they were than I ever realized at the time,” he said with a faint smile.
He did not assert that any specific bank or fund knew about or was an accomplice in his Ponzi scheme, which lasted at least 16 years and consumed about $20 billion in lost cash and almost $65 billion in paper wealth. Rather, he cited a failure to conduct normal scrutiny.
JP Morgan Faces More Risks On Madoff Trustee Allegations
Wall Street Journal – February 3, 011
By David Benoit (of Dow Jones Newswire)
Janet Tavakoli, the president of Tavakoli Structured Finance and a financial fraud expert, said her initial read showed Picard appeared to raise troublesome issues for J.P. Morgan.
The suit alleges J.P. Morgan was “basically creating products to leverage off of this relationship with Madoff,” Tavakoli said. “Instead then of asking questions, terminating the relationship or talking with the [Securities and Exchange Commission], they decide to create products based on something that they have a series of red flags on.”
END OF EXCERPT
JT Note: JPMorgan allegedly was Madoff’s primary banker for more than twenty years. It might be argued that given JPMorgan’s position of leadership in the business and failure to disclose red flags that it alone knew, the bank lent sponsorship and credibility to Madoff allowing him to enjoy a “halo effect.”
JPMorgan had a responsibility to hold itself to a high standard of ethical conduct, due diligence, and disclosure with respect to Madoff’s fund. Yet, allegedly JPMorgan failed to take appropriate action such as investigating suspicious money transfers, investigation of concerns about structured products expressed by its employees, investigations allegations that the fund was a Ponzi scheme, and terminating its business relationship with Madoff when Madoff declined to allow JPMorgan to perform due diligence on him.
Tavakoli Structured Finance, Inc.
Sculpture - Madoff and the Bull Market