NEW YORK (AP) — They had known him for years as a golf partner, a family friend. Some were neighbors or fellow members of country clubs on Long Island and in Florida.
Many had begun investing with 70-year-old Bernard L. Madoff decades ago, often after being referred by a friend or relative who had known the Wall Street veteran even longer.
There had been some warnings: Financial consultants had been suspicious for years about his astounding run of success.
They couldn't figure out how he managed to produce steady returns, month after month, even when everyone else was losing money — and leave almost no footprint while moving billions of dollars in and out of the markets.
"People would come to me with their statements and I couldn't make heads or tails of them," said Charles Gradante, co-founder of the Hennessee Group and advisor to hedge fund investors.
"He only had five down months since 1996," Gradante said. "There's no strategy in the world that can generate that kind of performance. But when people would come to him and say, 'How did I make money this month?' he didn't like it. He would get upset with people who probed too much."
Those investors were scrambling Friday to learn whether they had been wiped out by what prosecutors described as a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The assets of Madoff's investment company were frozen Friday in a deal with federal regulators and a receiver was appointed to manage the firm's financial affairs.
According to the criminal complaint, Madoff estimates he lost as much as $50 billion over many years. If true, it could be one of the largest fraud schemes in Wall Street history.
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[12/24/08] PARIS - A French investment fund manager badly hit by the multi-billion-dollar Madoff scandal committed suicide in his New York office on Tuesday, a French newspaper reported.
Thierry de la Villehuchet, 65, was the co-founder of Access International, a company that raised funds on the European markets to plough into Bernard Madoff's fraud-hit investment scheme.
Villehuchet "could not cope with the pressure following the outbreak of the scandal. He took his own life, this morning, in his office in New York," the website of la Tribune business daily quoted his relatives as saying.
"This is a farewell from someone who had done nothing wrong," they said.
"For the past week, he had tried day and night to find a way to recoup his investors' money and had begun legal action in the United States against US authorities," his relatives said.
[10/13/09 via libertarians_2000] Madoff wins one