Blaming The Victims? Hedgie Says Madoff Investors ‘Greedy’

Jun 30 2009 | 12:10pm ET

Although Bernard Madoff is—so far—the only man convicted in the $65 billion Ponzi scheme he ran for decades, one hedge fund manager says he had accomplices: his investors.

Hugh Hendry of London-based Eclectica Asset Management, in an interview with CNBC today, called Madoff investors greedy and said they should have known that the ultra-consistent returns they received was simply too good to be true.

“I’m sympathetic for people losing money, but I think this pejorative term of being greedy still applies,” he said. “There was an implicit greed in not questioning and just accepting unnatural returns.”

Hendry, chief investment officer at Eclectica, is not alone in calling out Madoff investors; Joe Nocera, business columnist for The New York Times, has done so repeatedly, and did so again yesterday after hearing the Madoff victims addressing his sentencing hearing blame everyone but themselves.

“Shouldn’t the Madoff victims have to bear at least some responsibility for their own gullibility? Mr. Madoff’s supposed results — those steady, positive returns quarter after blessed quarter — is a classic example of the old saw, ‘when something looks too good to be true, it probably is,’” Nocera wrote on his blog yesterday.” What’s more, most of the people investing with Mr. Madoff thought they had gotten in on something really special; there was a certain smugness that came with thinking they had a special, secret deal not available to everyone else. Of course, it turned they were right—they did have a special deal. It just wasn’t what they expected.”

Hendry seconded those notions.

“They didn’t show the requisite amount of fear that would have generated the curiosity to investigate,” he said. Madoff pleaded guilty to running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme in March and yesterday was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

And while he may feel sympathy for Madoff’s victims, he can garner no such emotion for the funds of hedge funds and investment advisers that steered their clients, unknowingly, into Madoff’s web.

“Shame on their advisers,” Hendry said, adding that those who did invest with Madoff are getting something of a comeuppance.

The first question investors ask today is, “Did you invest with Madoff?” Hendry said. And if the answer is “yes,” those advisers are finding themselves increasingly blacklisted.

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