Bernie Madoff thinks I'm a "hatchet man."
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That was the convicted Ponzi-schemer's response to my article last week on FOXBusiness.com that did something more people should have done when it comes to Bernie Madoff: Question the veracity of some of his claims.
As most people know, Madoff is guilty of a lie that lasted some 20 years. He ripped off investors of $50 billion in what may be the largest Ponzi operation in modern history. He did this by telling both large sophisticated investors and some average people that he had a secret formula for producing sizable and steady returns.
The formula was a fabrication; Madoff basically stole the money to maintain a lavish lifestyle and keep the scam going. The Ponzi scheme was eventually uncovered in late 2008, not because of anything that Madoff did but because investors started yanking funds out of his fake hedge fund faster than he could convince other investors to put money in. Only then did Madoff turn himself in to authorities. He is now serving what amounts to a life sentence in federal prison.
But the guy who wronged so many people now says he was wronged by me.
What has Madoff so peeved, according to a couple of lengthy and somewhat rambling emails he sent me yesterday, is that I somehow doubted much of what he told me during nearly two months of telephone and email chats. By doing so I've become a "typical hatchet job reporter rather than someone (he) truly respected in the past."
Some of the things Madoff takes issue with include my reporting on his alleged relationship with the Harvard Business School. Madoff wrote me in one of our first emails that he "is building an Entrepreneur course" around his experiences starting his electronic trading business, and his role in creating the largest electronic market on Wall Street, the Nasdaq stock market.
He said he has "been approached by number of other business schools but have only committed to Harvard."
I reported that Harvard denied any and all involvement with Madoff, but Madoff is undeterred in his quest to show he has a relationship with the elite school. In his latest emails, he says my initial FBN story was sent to him by the actual "Harvard Business School Professor I have been working with," and that he has received from this unnamed professor a "letter and numerous e-mails concerning Harvard Business School's professor's course project with me."
Madoff also doesn't care for my characterization of his remarks concerning SAC Capital and its founder Steve Cohen, the high-profile trader who he suggested relies on non-public, potentially illegal insider information to make money trading stocks.
SAC is under investigation in the Justice Department's wide-ranging probe of insider trading, and, as I reported, Madoff wrote me: "The worst kept secret was Steve Cohen's trading as well as most other hedge funds," adding that he once called Cohen to ask "him to stop his managers from approaching my traders with their offer to give them info if we let SAC execute our commission business."
In my story, I pointed out that Cohen denied ever speaking to Madoff and that Cohen says SAC doesn't even engage in the type of transactions Madoff alludes to in his email. I also pointed out that Madoff carried out his Ponzi scheme with little if any trading; in other words he didn't employ any traders for Cohen's people to talk with.
In terms of Madoff's other business, the market making unit of the Madoff empire known as Madoff Securities that matched buyers and sellers of stocks, this company does employ people who could have theoretically interacted with people at SAC. But, as I reported, Madoff Securities before it was shuttered in the wake of the scandal, was run mainly by his sons, Mark and Andrew, not Bernie.
In any event, Bernie wants to clarify his earlier remarks about SAC, Cohen and what he says is the alleged abuse that did take place. "After reviewing my language to you I realized I mistakenly said they offered to execute MY orders. It should have read we could execute SAC'S orders and earn the commissions which was his standard offer to market makers who would provide him with information regarding the market makers order flow. Surely you had to be familiar with his procedure, which was widely rumored in the press. His managers, like everyone else were of the opinion that we had access to huge orders from our Hedge fund as well as our market making flow which was hundred's of thousands of orders daily that they could run in front of and visa versa with SAC's orders."
He added: "Did you really expect SAC Capital to confirm the illegal conversation they had with my firm while they are currently under investigation for insider trading.
In response to Madoff's latest salvo, a SAC spokesman said, "This is absolutely false.".
Madoff also doesn't like being called an egomaniac. In my FBN story, I quoted Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, who made the point that Madoff may be reaching out to various members of the press to brag about his alleged involvement with the Harvard Business School among other things because of a pathological need to feel important, particularly now that he's been exposed as a fraud who must spend the rest of his life in jail.
"As for your comments about my use of the media to somehow feed my ego," Madoff writes, "Of the more than one hundred requests I have received world wide, I have only granted three interviews two for books and one for the London Financial Times, who like you wrongly reported that I was working on an Ethics course."
Just to clarify Madoff's assertions once again, my reporting involved his claim that he's working on an entrepreneurial course: I merely cited other reporting on the ethics course, which contained no visible corrections other than Harvard's continued denials.
Finally, Madoff appears annoyed about some of the comments I made particularly in an interview with Bianna Golodryga of ABC's Good Morning America that he's estranged from his wife Ruth, son Andrew and that he shows little remorse over the death of his other son, Mark, who committed suicide last year.
Apparently several media outlets have reported that Bernie didn't want to attend Mark's funeral. To set the record straight on that account, Bernie tells me why he couldn't attend: "There was no funeral because he was cremated," he writes, adding that he was also "informed by the prison that They would not grant permission to attend if requested."
And one more thing: I don't think I'll be sitting down and interviewing Madoff anytime soon, which was the point of my initial interactions with him. "I guess that you saw fit to write an article prior to our face to face visit so there is no point re scheduling your meeting," he writes, adding that he felt "compelled to add the following remarks" in his latest round of emails to me, even though he realizes that they are "probably falling on deaf ears."
Wrong again, Bernie.