13 March 2009

The $177 Billion Dollar Slap

After a week hiatus, or perhaps you could consider it "taking a run-up", hostilities resume. And while an incoming Slap might be the least of this gentleman's problems, he is still in desperate need of a handprint. So, courtesy of the New York Judicial System, please welcome Slapcatcher #9 of 2009 -

Bernard Madoff.

This week, Madoff pleaded guilty to eleven counts relating to the world's biggest game of Three Card Monty. The figures are staggering - according to prosecutors, $177 billion dollars went through Madoff's hands. I have to plan and organise and manoevre the paying of a phone bill... trying to imagine $177 buh-ILLION dollars is like a grain of sand trying to picture the beach. And yet, the apparently "deeply sorry" Bernard Madoff managed to make this evaporate. A lot of people's lives went sideways in the process.

Also Slapped this week are every person who assisted Madoff, either wittingly, or by giving his books a clean bill of health. The Ponzi scheme is an old, well-established rip off procedure, and for it to have worked that large for that long it astounding; it means that so many people were asleep at so many switches that being part of a US financial regulatory body apparently causes narcolepsy. Nice to know that Enron taught some people absolutely nothing. And more of this snooze-based vigilance will become apparent over the course of this year - much white-collar crime stays hidden while things are ticking along nicely, but when the wheels come off... it's only when there's a fire that you notice the fire extinguisher has been sold.

Madoff himself, having carried this on for decades, has been very noisy in his regrets now that he's been caught. Considering the amazingly large figures involved, the only other possible outcomes are that a) he died before he got caught, or b) he successfully put about $6 billion on 27 at Vegas. When you screw up once, you say sorry. Make the same bad move twice, and you might get away with "really sorry". Rinse and repeat over twenty years, and you can season your "sorry" with your crocodile tears, and take rectally. Which briefly makes me ponder the fact that it's a shame he won't be serving his time in maximum security.

Bernie, you deserve more punishment than you'll get. All I can do is add ever so slightly to your sentence.


Link - Bernard Madoff pleads guilty in $100bn fraud

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