Thursday, January 15, 2009

Not Even Trying

It's looking like the Madoff investment fund may have been not just fraudulently hyped, but complete fiction.

An industry-run regulator for brokerage firms said on Thursday there was no record of Madoff's investment fund placing trades through his brokerage operation.That means Madoff either placed trades through other brokerage firms, a move industry officials consider unlikely, or he was not executing trades at all.

Each month, Madoff sent out elaborate statements of trades conducted by his broker-dealer. Last November, for example, he issued a statement to one investor showing he bought shares of Merck & Co Inc, Microsoft Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and Amgen Inc among others. It also showed transactions in Fidelity Investments' Spartan Fund. But Fidelity, the world's biggest mutual fund company, has no record of Madoff or his company making any investments in it's funds.

There also appear to be discrepancies between monthly statements sent to investors and the actual prices at which the stocks traded on Wall Street. For example, his November statement showed he bought software maker Apple Inc's securities at $100.78 each on November 12, about a month before his arrest. But Apple's stock on that day never traded above $93.24. The statement also showed he bought chip maker Intel Corp at $14.51 on November 12, but Intel's highest price on that day was $13.97.