Monday, February 23, 2009

Born To Be Shady

While reporting on the discovery of bank accounts in Gibraltar, Lucinda Franks provides a little Madoff family background.

Ironically,Bernard Madoff's mother, Sylvia Madoff, who came from a modest background in Laurelton, Queens, owned spurious investment funds that she called Gibraltar Securities and Second Gibraltar Securities. Their mailing address was the family home in Laurelton, where Bernard grew up, and the funds do not appear to have done any business with the offshore haven. Mrs. Madoff may have thought the name conveyed solidity and a smattering of glamour.

There is speculation that her husband, Ralph, actually ran the funds and listed them in his wife’s name because he was burdened with tax troubles. Friends and neighbors do not recall Sylvia operating as a stockbroker, which would have been an unusual endeavor for a Queens housewife in those days. In any case, she was forced to pack up the funds in 1964 after the SEC discovered she had failed to file any reports.