Written by Teresa Zink for HB Litigation Conferences LLC

Bernard Madoff was a man people thought they could trust.  “I think investors, friends, and our clients had a belief in a man who was a Chairman of the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and had really engendered the trust of many clients for a number of years,” attorney Anthony Paccione told attendees at a late February seminar on the Madoff Investment Fraud sponsored by HB Litigation Conferences.  “The reality, as it turns out, is that he was a thief and stole money – a lot of it – and caused a lot of people to suffer.”

This disparity between the perception of Bernie Madoff and the reality, along with the fact that the scheme is relatively simple to understand and had as its victims some very prominent people is driving the public interest in Madoff, said Paccione, a partner at the New York office of Katten Muchin Rosenman who is chair of the firm’s Litigation Department in New York and head of its Madoff Task Force.

“However, ultimately,” said Paccione, “I think the reason why this is getting so much interest is that Mr. Madoff and this scandal are really very typical of what’s going on in the economy today.  People are wanting explanations as to what’s going on in the economy today.  He represents greed on Wall Street.”

Paccione pointed out that Madoff’s fraud certainly isn’t the only Ponzi scheme brought to light by the financial crisis.  Quoting Warren Buffett, Paccione said “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked,” and added that “Right now, the economy is at low tide, and I think we’re seeing a lot of naked swimmers out there.  Ponzi schemes are being discovered at a very rapid rate.”

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