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6.30.2009

Bernie Madoff and The Dark Knight

 

Bernie Madoff is going to jail for 150 years for stealing billions. He stole from millionaires and from charities. He is a villain, a thief, and a despicable person. But he isn't like the villains we imagine, or see in film. He wasn't connected to organized crime. He didn't distribute drugs or sell unapproved medicine to third world countries.
Madoff was the chairman of NASDAQ .

Madoff served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, and as Treasurer of its Board of Trustees.

Madoff undertook charity work for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and also engaged in philanthropic giving through The Madoff Family Foundation, a $19 million private foundation, which he managed along with his wife. They donated money to hospitals and theaters.(from Wikipedia)

He wasn't diabolical, a raving madman, or out to take over the world. He wouldn't have made a very convincing villain of a comic book. And so from a long list of prestigious clients - individuals and organizations - they were taken in.

Madoff was promising annual returns of at least 10% a year, no matter how the market performed. The investors didn't raise an eyebrow.

This would definitely raise the suspicions of the head of Wayne Industries and Gotham playboy, Bruce Wayne.

INT. BOARDROOM, WAYNE ENTERPRISES -- CONTINUOUS
Wayne is standing by the window.

FOX
Another long night?

(Wayne smiles)

This joint venture was your idea, and
the consultants love it, but I'm not
convinced. L.S.I.'s grown 8 percent
annually, like clockwork. They must
have a revenue stream that's off the
books. Maybe even illegal.

WAYNE
OK. Cancel the deal.

FOX
(looks at Wayne)
You already knew.

WAYNE
I needed a closer look at their
books.

(from THE DARK KNIGHT by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan)

Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, saw through such a Madoff situation immediately in the movie The Dark Knight. The difference was that the constant growth was due to 'other revenue streams' like illegal operations and organized crime, instead of the Ponzi scheme bringing in new investors to cover the old.

Where is Batman when we need him.

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