The baton on Fairfield Greenwich reporting is being passed to the Spanish language pubs for the Andrés Piedrahíta leg.
Yesterday, El Mundo described how Walter Noel’s son in law, who raised billions for Bernie Madoff to vaporize, begged the press to leave him alone. Today a Colombian publication has some details on his background, along with a Christmas card (pictured). The pub doesn’t say what year the card is from but we’re hoping for his sake it’s not this year. Maybe not the best timing to be flaunting your fancy vacation?
(Note that either this translation, or the article, seems to have some flaws in it. For example, in one instance they refer to Walter Noel as Piedrahíta’s grandfather, although they do get it right elsewhere in the text.)
Highlights from Semana.com: Andrés Piedrahíta grew up in an upper class family in Bogotá. Son of Samuel Piedrahíta and of Gladys Arocha, he is the youngest of three children. His father was a successful businessman representing cotton trading companies and his family is highly regarded socially.
Piedrahíta studied fleetingly in the Anglo Colombiano high school and graduated from the English School. Although he was the most popular in school he wasn’t a very good student. None of his classmates thought that he could become the most successful businessman of his generation. In high school, Piedrahíta began to show some of his main characteristics: audacity, a way with people and ambition. “In the yearbook in the year that we graduated, next to his photo he drew two lines, one horizontal and one vertical, and wrote that there are people who follow a staid course and there are others who soar upwards and that he was one of those, and that I would remember him,” says one of his classmates who prefers not to be named and who calls him a charming guy who was full of stories.
With his diploma, he went to the University of Boston to study communications and later convinced his father to give him some money because they had selected him for the Semester at Sea program, a cruise that docked in several countries and on board were young people who wanted to combine their studies with making international contacts that would serve them in their future. After that, he lived in Palm Beach, Florida and then in New York where he worked in an investment firm until the 1980s. Later, in 1991, he founded the company Littlestone Associates, a play on his last name in Spanish.
…Walter Noel, now 78, grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. With another economics degree from Harvard, he got his feet wet in the world of investment and in 1980 developed a close friendship with Bernard Madoff. “Since then, the businesses of both have grown side by side,” says the New York Times. How did he earn his money? Very simple. According to the newspaper, Fairfield Greenwich charged its clients annually 1 % of what they had invested in the high yielding fund like that of Madoff’s and 20% additionally on the earnings. That, according to the Times, means that the more than 7 billion USD that Noel had deposited in Investment Securities, Bernard Madoff’s firm, would produce 230 million each year. That refers only to that fund. The Fairfield Group came to manage up to 18 billion dollars which at the end of this year had diminished to 14 billion. If the average return from the last few years were around 10%, the total commissions could reach 500 million dollars.
From that total, the majority partner was Noel and a good part was distributed among the four sons-in-law who worked in the business. Although the husbands of the other four daughters have contributed to the growth of Fairfield Group, Piedrahíta, who became a partner of his grandfather in 1997, is the one who has most expanded the area of influence of the business. That is why he moved to England, where he began to move about with ease in the world of aristocracy and of great economic power. He had a mansion on Chester Square, the most exclusive street in London, where he hosted the jet set of the city, including royalty like Prince Paul of Greece, the nephew of Queen Sophia of Spain, according to one of his friends.
After consolidating his position as a prestigious financier in England, he moved to Madrid. He bought an elegant home in the Puerta de Hierro neighbourhood from the banking family Juan Herrera and Martínez Campos and later a farm on the island of Mallorca. He had great success in that world. His business prestige was accompanied by a reputation as one of the best hosts in Madrid, where among other luxuries he owned a private jet and a yacht. Emilio Botín, president and largest stockholder of Banco Santander, was one of his friends. Botín, like Piedrahíta, was a major victim of the Madoff swindle.
See Also: Walter Noel’s Wife: We’re Not Rich
Hat Tip: For What It’s Worth