Timing is everything, and when hedge-fund manager Michael Berger bet that the first Internet stock bubble would pop in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999, his timing stunk. Specifically, the ill-timed bets cost Berger’s Manhattan Investment Fund $400 million. This didn’t stop Berger, however, who raised $575 million by allegedly forging statements saying the fund was going gangbusters. The scheme collapsed in January 2000, about 20 minutes before the Internet bubble did, in fact, pop–whereupon Berger pleaded guilty to the aforementioned fraud, attempted to withdraw his guilty plea on the grounds that he had been insane to plead guilty, and then went on the lam.
That was five years ago–and no one’s seen hide nor hair of the mysterious “Michael B” since. Until today, that is, when an international cooperation between the FBI and Austria’s federal police found him holed up in Vienna.
The good news for Berger? As an Austrian citizen, he can’t be extradited to the US. The bad news? Austria has also charged him with fraud.