Why, Bernie, why?
By all accounts, Bernard Madoff had a successful trading business and was a hitter on Wall Street. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities was one of the top three market makers in Nasdaq stocks, had over 600 brokerage clients and claimed to often contribute 10% of New York Stock Exchange trading volume, usually after the 4 p.m. market close.
So why, inquiring minds want to know, did he perpetrate the largest fraud ever on Wall Street, some $50 billion? He had it made, so why risk it?
Most don't set out to be crooks, but Madoff became one when his talents proved lacking.
Well, for starters, if you leave the Tri-State area, very few people know what a market maker is. At the Palm Beach Country Club or the Boca Rio, the preserved specimens at cocktail parties know about cement or paper plants; their brokers at Merrill (or maybe Goldman) are their only ties to Wall Street.
"And what do you do?"
"I'm the third-largest market maker of …"
"Oh, my drink is empty."