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'Financial psychopaths' wreak havoc

The damage done in cases of Bernard Madoff and Marc Dreier doesn't end with investors.

Andy Serwer, managing editor
Last Updated: December 12, 2008: 3:18 PM ET

With everything that has happened on Wall Street over the past 18 months, you'd think we had seen just about everything right? Wrong!

Two of the most remarkable frauds in the history of finance were exposed this week. They are just beginning to unravel and as such we don't fully understand the magnitude of the crimes. But already I can tell you they are of epic, even cinematic, proportions. This is really from the "can't make this stuff up" school of news. These two miscreants aren't just every day corner-cutters, they are world-class whack.

First, let's take on Marc Dreier, head of his eponymous law firm who was busted in Toronto and then charged in New York cheating investors out of $380 million. Let's see, where do we start with this Yale-Harvard educated, power-lawyer bloodsucker? That he was allegedly impersonating another lawyer? That he allegedly would use innocent companies' offices and suggest that he was representing these firms as he swindled clients out of millions?

No, I will start -- and end -- with the fact that he employed dozens and dozens of innocent men and women who could soon be out on the street. And I'm not just talking about lawyers. Martindale, a service which tracks law firms, says the firm has 85 of 'em. Law enforcement reports suggest that no one else in the firm was in on Dreier's crimes.

OK, I understand that you have a hard time swallowing that a bunch of New York lawyers are innocent victims. But then think of the dozens and dozens of assistants, secretaries, and other support staff. Looks like they are very much in harm's way. Their jobs could be toast. And let's remember, Marc Dreier, was a very successful guy.

In his deviant and delusional mind he just had to have a tiny bit, oops, make that a lot, more. Little people in the way? He doesn't care about them.

Congratulations Marc Dreier, that officially makes you, a financial psychopath!

Next up is one Bernard Madoff, founder of Madoff Investment Securities and former NASDAQ chairman, who just took investors for a multi-billion-dollar bath. Madoff reportedly once ran $50 billion, and the whole enchilada may now be gone.

Some investors may have been lucky enough to get some cash out, but it seems likely that John Q. Investor could have lost $17 billion. $17 billion! Now this isn't some notional value of derivatives a la AIG or Lehman. This is real cash!

Bernie Boy has reportedly 'fessed up and admitted to prosecutors that he was running an old-fashioned Ponzi scheme. Pay investors outsized returns with cash from investments of new investors.

Gee. How creative.

Madoff was caught when he was allegedly trying to give hundreds of millions back to his key employees, most or all of whom, (again as in the Dreier case), had no idea what was going on. Now their lives are changed forever.

Until recently, Madoff's company website had pictures of a "STANY 2008" party. The president of STANY, the Security Trader's Association of New York, according to its website, is one Larry Birch. He "has spent his entire 20 year career in the securities industry with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

Larry now oversees all of the firm's client relationships." Larry graduated from Wharton and New York University. Larry has a wife and two kids. But now Larry's life is changed forever.

Congratulations Bernard Madoff, that officially makes you, a financial psychopath

By the way, the Dreier LLP and Madoff websites are up and running if you want to take a spin. You will see names and pictures of employees. People whose lives will be altered, tainted, painfully injured, or even ruined by behavior that can only be called psycho. To top of page

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