Victims or Accomplices In Madoff Scheme?

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Victims or Accomplices In Madoff Scheme?
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Friday Dec. 14, 2012
Four years ago this month, Bernard L. Madoff, the king of Wall Street, told his two sons that he had been running a “ponzi” scheme totaling more than $50 billion.
Madoff managed “Hedge funds” but instead of investing money, took money from new clients to pay profits to old clients.Thousands of people are Madoff “victims.” He was convicted the following year and sentenced to 150 years imprisonment serving at the Butner Medium Correctional facility in North Carolina.

But what about his “victims?” Are they really victims?

Not everyone could invest their money with Madoff. You had to have clout. People were invited in with the promise of steady profits, and no losses.

It was too good to be true but the inner greed in people with big money is never ending. Nearly everyone lost their money when Madoff’s scheme came to an abrupt end on Dec. 10, 2008.

But, all of his victims were receiving the profits of the scheme. Each investor was receiving millions in what we now know were false interest and investment profits.

Madoff would fake up investment statements and the people were so happy to get their money no one bothered to question how one person could earn on stock investments even when the stock market had collapsed, dropped and was quaked with uncertainty.

They didn’t want to know. Most were not just average people. They included his relatives, friends of his relatives, and business partners and investors.

They would “invest” their hundreds of millions in Madoff and Madoff would secretly take those investments and issue them as payouts or redemptions to his investors.

They all got money. What they lost was the nest egg they invested. But they all received cash payments every month for the entire time they were invested. Many were huge cash payments that they used to live on while the ponzi scheme continued. Many were just reinvested.

Greed was the common denominator. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone driven by greed.

There is one group of victims, though. Those were the people whose money was invested in other firms, and did not directly know their money was invested with Madoff. The brokerage companies and fund managers simply took their money and then they invested it with Madoff.

They lost their money, too.

The Wall Street fund managers, though, made lucrative profits. Hundreds of millions every month were paid out to all kinds of fund managers.

Amazingly, through all of this, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) did absolutely nothing. They did nothing when an obnoxious and hard-to-like whistle-blower named Harry Markopolos complained not once but twice that Madoff’s investments were fake. He spent eight years and failed to convince anyone of the truth.

The SEC did nothing because when SEC officials leave and go into private practice, they were almost all hired by Madoff. No one wanted to risk closing the door on their own possible gain, or, greed.

Madoff is all about greed and how greedy people can close their eyes to commonsense in the hopes of making easy profits, even when investing their hard-earned savings.

There are no real heroes in this saga. And for those who lost everything, well, they sure had their fun, like gamblers in Las Vegas enjoying the high life until it all caught up.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him athttp://www.TheMediaOasis.com.)  — City & Suburban News-Herald

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com