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金融巨鳄麦道夫搅动600亿美元 庞氏骗局惊世一诈

Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street financier who was sentenced to 150 years after being convicted for what came to be known as the largest and most devastating Ponzi scheme in financial history, died on Wednesday in a prison hospital in the US.

The estimated $65 billion scam had victims from every strata of society, from the poorest to the high and mighty, with the list of those conned including filmmaker Steven Spielberg, actor couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, broadcaster Larry King and baseball legend Sandy Koufax.

Who was Bernie Madoff? Born in New York in 1938 in a working-class family of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Madoff first started a stockbroking firm with his brother using money he had saved from working as a lifeguard and installing lawn sprinklers– a story that became a legend as he rose to fame.

He began in the 1960s by trading penny stocks, or shares of small companies that are not listed on major stock exchanges (interestingly, a route that had also been taken by fraudster Jordan Belfort, whose 2013 biopic starred Leonardo DiCaprio).

Madoff’s business, which was then legitimate, prospered. Working with his brother and two sons, his firm went on to become one of Wall Street’s largest market makers, matching buyers and sellers of stocks, and was among the pioneers of computerised trading.

Bernard Madoff arrives at Manhattan federal court, Thursday, March 12, 2009, in New York. (AP Photo/File)Madoff was highly respected, and used his expertise in cutting edge technology in helping launch Nasdaq, the first electronic stock exchange, even serving as its chairman at one time. Federal regulators also looked at him as a trusted advisor. ‘The world’s largest Ponzi scheme’ Behind his respectable public persona, however, Madoff was running an elaborate scam. Pretending to be trading securities, Madoff was running a proper Ponzi scheme: promising steady, double-digit returns to his customers, while actually using cash from new investors to pay back money to older ones.

Madoff was able to sustain the fraud for several years, withstanding a severe recession in the 1990s, a global financial crisis in 1998 and the jittery aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Through those years, Madoff earned a reputation as a man of his word–never failing to honour redemption requests and delivering the ‘profits’ that had been promised to his customers.

Madoff and his wife lived a luxurious life, owning private jets, a yacht, and homes in Manhattan, Long Island, Florida and in the south of France.

It was only after the crash of 2008 that the Ponzi scheme finally unravelled. His investors, who had so far reposed their trust in Madoff, began to pull out their money just as new sources of income dried up. By November 2008, investors took out over $12 billion from Madoff accounts.

At this time, Madoff confessed to his two sons about the true nature of his business, reportedly telling them it was “one big lie”. They then informed authorities of the scam, and Madoff was arrested at his Manhattan penthouse in December 2008. The scandal’s scale, and Madoff’s conviction In total, the loss reflected by fake account statements hovered around $64.8 billion, including the fictitious profits that Madoff was sending back to customers for over at least two decades. Court-appointed trustees have so far been able to recover $14 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that investors pumped into Madoff’s business.

The scandal is considered among the most humiliating failures of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US stock regulator, as it was unable to detect wrongdoing despite investigating Madoff more than six times since at least 1992, as per The New York Times.

In March 2009, the then 71-year-old Madoff pleaded guilty to several charges including securities fraud, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.” Such was the anger against Madoff that he would wear a bulletproof vest to court proceedings.

Calling his crimes “extraordinarily evil”, the court sentenced him to the maximum possible term of 150 years in prison, effectively the remainder of his life. His personal property including houses and investments was seized, as were assets worth $80 million that his wife claimed were hers. His brother was also sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2012.

Last year, after serving 11 years in prison, Madoff asked for an early release stating health problems. He said in an interview to The Washington Post, “I’m terminally ill. There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”

The same judge who had sentenced him denied the request, saying that he did not believe that Madoff was “truly remorseful”, and that “he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him”.

Madoff’s victims Madoff’s Ponzi scheme took away money from working-class families– including farmers, teachers and mechanics– as well as rich investors from the Persian Gulf and Florida’s Palm Beach. Charities, pension funds and university endowments were also duped. Madoff, who was Jewish, had also swindled prominent coreligionists by pretending to be interested in Jewish philanthropy– duping Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and the charitable foundation of filmmaker Steven Spielberg. According to an AP report, a former investor told the judge at Madoff’s sentencing, “He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values. He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife … could live a life of luxury beyond belief.” At least two investors killed themselves after suffering losses because of the scam. Madoff’s son Mark also took his life on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest in 2010. His other son, Andrew, died of cancer at the age of 48 in 2014, and had blamed the stress of the scam as the cause of the disease relapsing after 11 years since he first fought it off. Madoff is survived by his wife.

Original Article

14年前,一场轰动全世界的史上最大“庞氏骗局”破灭,这个惊世骗局背后的始作俑者——麦道夫,获得了“金融巨骗”这个极不光彩的称号。 ADVERTISEMENT 麦道夫善于抓住人们贪婪的心,通过精心设计的“庞氏骗局”,利用对冲基金,以虚设投资项目为诱饵,来吸引巨额资金。 其实,麦道夫的诈骗操作手法简单易懂,就是通过不断吸入新的现金流,来支付投资者赎回的高息回报。他的投资信徒从高官到贩长走卒,人人都相信他有点石成金的魔法棒。 这种拆东墙补西墙的做法,一骗就骗了近40年,136个国家中有多达3.7万人被骗,涉案总金额更是超过600亿美元。 ADVERTISEMENT 知名金融机构受骗 当然,盛宴的音乐一停,哀鸿遍野,逃不及的投机者都落得“马革裹尸”的下场,而全球数家知名金融机构的声誉也遭到严重破坏,当中十多家知名对冲基金和基金经理不得不承认,由始至终他们未发现麦道夫的欺诈行为。

监150年罚1700亿美元 麦道夫于2008年被捕,并在2009年认罪。经审判,其承认11项与证券欺诈、洗钱、伪造文件有关的重罪指控,被判监禁150年;同时,法院还开出1700亿美元的天价罚单。 若按照判处监禁时间表来看,判处至今,麦道夫在狱中尚未撑过刑期的十分之一。 2020年2月,麦道夫提出申请,称自己因为肾病正濒临死亡,并寻求出于同情的理由早日从监狱释放,让他可以死在家里。 法官痛斥罪行邪恶 检方要求法官驳回麦道夫的申请,让这个罪大恶极之人继续服他的150年刑期,称麦道夫的罪行“极其邪恶”,对他的量刑很适当,不应减刑。 2020年3月,麦道夫表示,即使检方成功地让法官驳回他的提前出狱申请,让他因肾衰竭死在监狱里,也不代表正义得到了伸张。 麦道夫的律师敦促法官批准他的提前出狱申请,称仅仅为了报复并不足以让他在监狱里度过最后的日子。 不获减刑病死狱中 在2021年4月14日晚间,麦道夫在北卡罗来纳州巴特纳的联邦医疗中心逝世,享年82岁。 这位曾经在华尔街极具威信的人物,因操纵了金融史上规模最大、可能也是最具破坏性的庞氏骗局,在2008年成为一个时代金融不法与失策的象征。 最糟糕的是,早在1992年开始,美国证券交易委员会(SEC)一度手握6条可靠线索,但均未成功揭穿麦道夫,这是该机构1934年成立以来,最为耻辱的监管失效经历。 麦道夫被誉为“华尔街的传奇”。

传奇人物叱咤华尔街 麦道夫曾是美国华尔街的传奇人物,被誉为“华尔街的传奇”、与巴菲特齐名的“投资专家”,还担任过那斯达克主席。 虽然麦道夫本人强调诈骗活动从上世纪90年代初期开始,但同案交易员大卫库格尔却指控,其犯罪活动最早可以追溯到上世纪70年代。 雷曼风暴成导火线 如此规模巨大的骗局始于友人、亲属和乡村俱乐部的熟人之间,但最终扩展到哈达萨这样的大型慈善机构、大学、机构投资者,以及欧洲、拉丁美洲和亚洲的富豪家族。 在精心制作的财务报表,和投资者与监管机构深厚信任的支持下,麦道夫在衰退和危机中安稳地操纵着他的诈骗计划,不过,雷曼兄弟破产引发的金融风暴,却成为了他的梦魇。

儿子大义灭亲举报 对冲基金和其他机构投资者迫于其客户的压力,开始从他们在麦道夫那里的账户中提取数亿美元。到2008年12月,更是有超过120亿美元的资金被取走,不过,几乎没有再出现新的现金流来弥补这些赎回。 面对破产,麦道夫向他的两个儿子承认,他的资金管理业务实际上是个“弥天大谎”。儿子将麦道夫的自白报告给了执法部门,第二天,也就是2008年12月11日,他在曼哈顿的顶层公寓被捕。

诈骗摧毁千万家庭 麦道夫制造的惊天“庞氏骗局”,让千万家庭的财产化为虚空,还引发多起命案。 最著名的是2008年12月23日,时年65岁的知名法国基金经理蒂里德拉维莱切特,因投资麦道夫所设对冲基金损失惨重,在“无法应对随之而来的压力”的情况下,在位于美国纽约的办公室割腕自杀。

出庭须穿防弹背心 在庭审时,由于行骗招致太多人怨恨,麦道夫甚至必须身穿防弹背心,才能出庭接受审问。 2010年12月,麦道夫长子马克在纽约家中上吊自杀,结束了年仅46岁的生命,并留下一份遗言:“麦道夫,现在你知道你的行骗生涯是怎么毁掉我的生活了吧!”

儿死妻恨家破人亡 尽管麦道夫的妻子露丝在事件败露后没有选择离婚,但在长子马克死后,她再没有同麦道夫说过一句话。 2014年9月,麦道夫次子安德鲁死于癌症,年仅48岁。就在去世前夕,安德鲁仍然告诉美国媒体,他无法原谅自己的父亲。

人性贪婪追逐财富 麦道夫先是利用加入俱乐部的机会结识犹太富豪,从中发掘自己的“客户”。麦道夫在取得会员们的信任后,还会通过会员转介绍结识更多的富豪。 麦道夫对“客户”许诺,他管理的基金不管在牛市、熊市,年回酬都能达到10%以上,但是他对于基金的运作和投资策略讳莫如深,如果“客户”打破砂锅问到底,他就拒绝接受该“客户”的投资。

投资门槛百万美元 此外,麦道夫设置的投资门槛还非常高,开始只接受单笔100万美元以上的投资,后来变成只接受单笔500万美元以上的投资,最后只接受单笔1000万美元以上的投资。 神奇的是,“庞氏骗局”一般只能坚持两三年,但麦道夫居然维持了几十年。

不愿为欺诈负全责 麦道夫在一次采访中暗示,他不能完全为欺诈负责。 “我以为自己能在短时间内抽身,但局面却迅速失控了。他们感觉到情况不对劲,可是每个人都很贪婪,想继续下去。 “我只是顺势而为,这简直是一场噩梦,你想象一下,我不能告诉任何人的心情。我毁了很多家庭,他们问我为什么要这么做,我说我也不知道。”

Original Article

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