“We lost everything. We are one of the biggest victims.”
Those are the words of Walter Noel’s son in law, Andres Piedrahita. Noel ran the Fairfield Greenwich Group, the hedge fund that funneled billions of dollars from outside investors into Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Piedrahita was one of the most senior executives of FGG, which made elaborate promises about the due diligence it did on its investments when it was really just handing the money over to Bernie.
So what happens when you are one of the biggest victims of Madoff? Well, if you are Piedrahita, it apparently means you cruise the Adriatic in a brand new, custom-built $30 million yacht. “He is now cruising the Adriatic with wife Corina Noel and their children. I am told he has plans to cruise around the Dalmatian coast and Corfu,” Vicky Ward reported in the Huffington Post.
But don’t get the wrong idea. According to Piedrahita’s lawyers, he’s selling the yacht and the money will go to repay the investors in the fund. In fact, his lawyers say that the only reason he’s been hanging around on the yacht is to meet with potential buyers. Tough gig.
Columbia Reports has more details about Piedrahita’s denials:
The financier explains that he started business with Madoff in July 1989 when the latter invested one million dollar in the group Fairfield Piedrahita worked for. The business relations grew slowly and over the years, Madoff invested several million dollars in Fairfield.
“Despite not having a direct relationship with Bernard Madoff, people consider me to be responsible for the million fraud”, Piedrahita said.
“Of course I am responsible, like I think that the executives of the banks are [responsible] too. I’m not washing my hands in whatever. I only say that my responsibilities were not to manage relations with him. My responsibilities were to diversify the company and I did it with great success,” the financier explained.
Piedrahita claims FGG is planning to return money to investors. It’s a bit unclear, but it does sound like Piedrahita is promising to return the money FGG took in fees over the years. Since they’ve been doing buisness with Madoff for 20 years, this would be a substantial sum.
“This is what we want to do … We consider it to be just to return the money we earned with Madoff during many years. Under British law we don’t have to but we consider it only to be fair,” Piedrahita said.
Let’s hope FGG really do live up to this promise.
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