By Rick Gould, CPA, JD
Today is the anniversary of a day most Americans want to forget. December 11 is often called “Madoff Day”, in celebration of the arrest of Bernie Madoff, who was convicted of the largest and most costly corporate fraud in U.S. history. $70 Billion dollars is estimated to be the amount his clients lost. For many of them it was their life savings. Madoff was arrested on December 11th, 2008.
There were other major Ponzi scheme frauds uncovered in 2008. Two that stood out: Mark Dreier, Managing Partner of the Dreier Law Firm was arrested for defrauding clients of three quarters of a billion dollars, and R. Allen Stanford, ultimately convicted of a $7 billion dollar fraud in his Houston, Texas headquartered bank.
These three men, as well as others who found similar fates, would have been wealthy in their own right; certainly multi-millionaires. But instead of being satisfied with that hard to fathom amount of money, they wanted more. They believed that, as Gordon Gekko coined in the 1987 movie “Wall Street” -- “Greed is Good.” Their only goal seemed to be to make more money, no matter whose lives they financially crushed in the process.
The only message I see here is this: those who invest their hard-earned dollars must thoroughly check out the track record and reputation of who they are investing with, whether it be a financial institution, advisor, investment counselor, or a “trusted” Managing Partner of a law or CPA firm. Unfortunately, the few that believe “Greed is Good” taint the credibility and reputation of the rest of us that are ethical and honorable. December 11, 2008 should not be forgotten. It should serve as a war cry for increased transparency and accountability, and a sobering reminder of the importance of due diligence when choosing investment partners and business advisors.