Toomre Capital Markets LLC

Real-Time Capital Markets -- Analytics, Visualization, Event Processing, and Intelligence

Richard Spring

Investigators Work Backward On Madoff Fraud

The Friday January 23rd 2009 edition of The Wall Street Journal included an article entitled Probers Work Backward on Madoff written by Kara Scannell and Amir Efrati. This article summarizes the unusual case in the Bernie Madoff scandal where the principal figure was the first to confess to his criminal behavior. Normally, prosecutors and investigators work their way up the chain to the principle figure(s). In the Madoff case, they have been forced to work backwards to figure out who else could have helped Mr. Madoff, who said that he acted alone.

According to the article, the SEC recently issued subpoenas to a Madoff lieutenant, one JoAnn "Jodi" Crupi, and a brokerage firm affiliated with Mr. Madoff. Ms. Crupi is represented by lawyer Eric R. Breslin. Regulators are focused on documents about her compensation and her dealings with certain firm clients, including some charities. They also have asked for access to her personal computer. This last request makes Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") wonder whether regulators suspect that there were communications with clients from private e-mail accounts (as reportedly happened earlier in the timeline of this scandal).

Also, apparently regulators are preparing to issue a second subpoena to another Madoff associate, Frank DiPascali. He is represented by lawyer Marc Mukasey of the firm Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in New York. Mr. DiPascali has been reported to be Mr. Madoff's senior assistant (or even chief financial officer) and, according to Bloomberg News, investors' "Go-To" guy in the operation of the investment management business. According to investor Tim Murray of Minnesota, Mr. DiPascali was a “street-smart New Yorker” who fielded calls about the millions of dollars he entrusted to the firm. “To a Madoff customer with a discretionary account, he is the guy,” said Mr. Murray, 57, a real-estate developer. “There is nobody else.”

Ms. Crupi and Mr. DiPascali both worked on the now infamous 17th floor where the investment management portion of Bernie Madoff's business was kept separate from the broker/dealer market making operations. Like many who have learned of this fraud, authorities do not believe Mr. Madoff's assertion that he acted alone in pulling off such a large fraudulent scheme that seems to have stretched back at least three decades and involved literally thousands of investors. Those investors received monthly and quarterly account statements that are now believed to be fraudulent. One of the open questions is: Who helped Bernie Madoff prepare such detailed and ultimately fraudulent statements?

Bob Jaffe, Bernie Madoff's Man To See, Ducks Subpoena

Robert Jaffe in his vintage MG from the Palm Beach Daily News annual selection of stylish Palm Beachers. Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") has been rather amazed by both the number of and the sophistication of the various individuals, institutions and charities that have been victims of the Bernie Madoff fraud. (Yes, under American law, one is presumed innocent until one either pleads guilty or is convicted by a jury of one's peers. However, given that Bernie Madoff apparently confessed to his brother Peter Madoff, his two sons, Andy and Mark Madoff and the FBI agents on the morning of his arrest, TCM is this particular scandal will henceforth forgo using the term "alleged".) Like many in the finance industry, TCM has been surprised that a fraud of this magnitude could have been perpetuated against so many investors for so long by a firm that flew relatively below the radar.

As TCM has written about previously in the post Update on Bernie Madoff Scandal and Feeder Funds, one of the keys to Bernie Madoff's fraud were the various "feeder funds" that in essence bundled investment monies from multiple investors and then deposited much, if not all, of those funds with Bernie Madoff. Apparently the five largest of these "feeder funds" were Fairfield Greenwich, Tremont Capital, Banco Santander, Bank Medici and Ascot Partners. Other "gate keepers" who apparently funneled funds to Bernie Madoff included Jerry Breslauer, Richard Spring, Bramdean Alternatives, Prospect Capital, Stanley Chais, Cohmad Securities Corp. , and Robert M. Jaffee (pictured to right in picture by Greer Gattuso/Palm Beach Daily News).

According to a December 21st 2008 article in The Boston Globe entitled Bernie Madoff's Man To See, Robert M. Jaffe, 64, of both Weston, Massachusetts and Palm Beach, Florida cut quite the figure, even in the rarefied world of high society in Palm Beach. "With his impeccably coiffed hair, a golf game to envy, and a $17 million waterfront mansion, he was a man to be seen. He was also the man to see, if you wanted in on a sure thing - Bernard L. Madoff's investment." Apparently Mr. Jaffe "relished his access to wealthy friends and investors at country clubs and charity galas" and hence attracted "an A-list of the powerful and famous, as well as his closest friends, family - and himself" to Bernie Madoff's fraud.

Mr. Jaffe served as a Vice President of Cohmad Securities Corp., a broker/dealer that apparently was set up primarily to bring in investment management clients for Bernie Madoff. In Palm Beach and Boston, Mr. Jaffe offered coveted access to the now infamous New York investment firm and apparently this MBA dropout functioned more as a symbol of the extraordinary wealth and status Madoff clients could achieve. Driving "a green 1954 MG TF British convertible, [Jaffe] seemed to find more success doing business on the golf course than in the boardroom. And it showed in his game: Jaffe was the club champion earlier this year at Palm Beach Country Club."

The article continued, "Massachusetts investigators are looking into questions such as whether Jaffe or his firm failed to protect investors they steered to Madoff. In an interview, Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin said he had subpoenaed Jaffe to better understand Madoff's operations. 'Maybe Mr. Jaffe didn't know' about the alleged fraud, Galvin said, 'but he certainly was a key player in getting people to invest.'"