And for nearly five years I’ve watched the Madoff Five case slowly disgorge itself in a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan—hearings after hearings after hearings.
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“After Bernie’s arrest [December 2008], the first term that came to me to describe this is that I’m living in The Matrix,” a longtime arbitrage trader at the company, who requested anonymity, told me several years ago. He manipulated everybody.” While that trader was engaged in real transactions on the broker-dealer’s proprietary-trading desk, the world now knows that no trades had been transacted for at least two decades for the thousands of the firm’s customers (on the investment advisory side of the business).
My eyes did a split-strike conversion, a Madoff trading method that the feds called a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t fiction. So did defense lawyers, including a no-longer-frowning Larry Krantz, who rejoiced to a colleague: “.” And by the time it was over, with the fifth and final defendant sentenced on the 15th, a New York federal judge named Laura Taylor Swain had upended her reputation as a harsh bequeather of punishments. In just a few minutes, it will be 2015—the year that the only employees of Bernard L.
Madoff who have been convicted of crimes at trial will begin serving out their prison terms.
These defendants weren’t ‘masters of the universe’ who could bring a nation’s currency down with the wave of their hands; they weren’t hedge fund managers straight out of Yale or derivatives managers with multiple degrees from MIT.
They were the unseen trolls of Wall Street, the workers in the underworld that is the Metropolis of finance. These five, very much that world in microcosm, were on trial for making the Madoff Ponzi scheme work.
Don’t tell me it’s gonna be like two months for [co-defendants] Jerry and George. They were always led to believe that the trades and the client assets were effected and held in Europe, as was common in our industry for this type of transaction.