As he serves out his 150-year prison sentence, Bernard Madoff wants to
"set the record straight." In a series of interviews with New York
magazine's Steve Fishman
the former investment adviser tells his side of the story. The article
will give little solace to the victims of Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi
scheme--the 72-year-old explains away decades of deceptive behavior. "I’m
not the kind of person I'm being portrayed as,” he says. "I am a good
person." The article also reveals a man abandoned by his family with few
else to turn to. Following the suicide of his son Mark, Madoff has been
unable to contact his son Andrew or wife Ruth.
"Madoff had a
purpose in reaching out to me," Fishman writes. "The record, as he sees
it, should reflect that he'd risen from modest beginnings to change the
way business is done on Wall Street. Even from prison, he is determined
to resurrect his legacy."
We've rounded up Madoff's most startling rationalizations:The Market Is Rigged Anyway:
Describing his earlier career, Fishman says Madoff had a
chip on his shoulder and a contempt for Wall Street. "It was always a
business where you had to have an edge, and the little guy never got a
break. The institutions controlled everything," he said. "I realized
from a very early stage that the market is a whole rigged job. There's
no chance that investors have in this market."I Tried to Give the Money Back:
"I was always able to rationalize it … Look, I tried to give moneys back
to my individual clients when I realized it was impossible to get
myself out. I tried to return funds to my friends, moneys to the smaller
clients. They wouldn't take it back … Everybody said, 'No, you can't do
that. You can't send me my money back. I've been a friend of yours, or a
client, for years' … I couldn't tell them I would have been doing them a
favor. I couldn't. I mean, could I have insisted? Yes. I did block it
out of my mind," he said. "I had no choice."It Was Their Fault for Trusting Me:
Madoff distributes his guilt to the industry he worked in. "Look, these
banks and these funds had to know there were problems," he said. “I
wouldn't give them any facts, like how much volume I was doing. I was
not willing to have them come up and do the due diligence that they
wanted. I absolutely refused to do it. I said, 'You don’t like it, take
your money out,' which of course they never did."My Clients Were Rich:
"Look, none of my clients, even if they lost every penny they put in
there, can plead poverty," he said. "Look, it doesn’t mean I’m excusing
what I did, doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for them. I’m embarrassed …
It was the people that came in very late in the game that got hurt. All
of my friends, most of my individual clients, are not net losers,” he
said. “Now if you listen to [them], they’re living out of Dumpsters and
they don't have any money, and I’m sure it’s a traumatic experience to
some, but I made a lot of money for people. Does it justify it? No." He
says his close friend Carl Shapiro used the money Madoff made him to
build "more hospitals in Boston and put more buildings in Brandeis
University than you can imagine."I Did Great Things, Remember:
Of his legacy, Madoff wondered: "Does
anybody want to hear that I had a successful business and did all these
wonderful things for the industry? And got all these awards?
And so did my family? I did all of this during the legitimate years.
No. You don't read any of that."My Therapist Says I'm Fine:
During one of his therapy
sessions in prison, Madoff asked a question. “Everybody on the outside
kept claiming I was a sociopath," he said. “Am I a sociopath?" "You're
absolutely not a sociopath," his therapist replied. "You have morals.
You have remorse."
Bonus: You Think I'm Bad:
Sachs he says "it's unbelievable no one has any criminal convictions--the
whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi
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