Saturday, February 12, 2011

Madoff with the Money

Multi-billion dollar Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff is still in the news, several years after his arrest. Just the other day, I heard an expert interviewed on the radio about the Madoff scandal. The good news I heard is that the prosecutor has recovered .50 on the dollar for investors who lost money with Madoff. (Most people expected them to only cover .10 of every dollar, so that's very good news indeed.)

It caught my attention because I was in the middle of reading Madoff with the Money by Jerry Oppenheimer, an investigative look at the financial mongol who bilked investors of billions of dollars.

In this cleverly-titled book, Oppenheimer reveals what he learned about the childhood and business of Madoff from dozens of interviews he conducted.

He explores Bernie Madoff's parents and siblings, especially Peter, who worked with Madoff in his firm. He follows Madoff's less-than-stellar high school and college career, and explores the questionable start of Madoff on Wall Street.

In this book, we learn of Madoff (and his wife's) foul mouths, disregard for family, and strange quirks.

It sometimes tends to read like a super-long newspaper investigation piece, but it is an interesting and disturbing one. Several of the names were familiar to me from reading Harry Markopolos's book No One Would Listen. (You can read my review here.) Markopolos' role in bringing Madoff down is mentioned in Oppenheimer's book, but he focuses on Bernie, his firm and his family.

After reading Madoff with the Money, I can't help but think that Bernie is the fall guy - and that in no way could he have pulled this off by himself. He wasn't smart enough.

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