Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thought Experiment

So, it seems confessed fraud tycoon Bernie Madoff's wife withdrew $15.5 million from the family accounts essentially at the same time her huckster husband was confessing to the family that he had bilked investors out of $50 billion.

Yesterday, too, New York's attorney general disclosed that Merrill Lynch executives "chose to make millionaires out of a select group of 700 employees" with huge bonuses just days before the insolvent investment bank was absorbed by Bank of America, all thanks to bailout money handed over by the Bush administration with no strings attached.

Try this thought experiment: Pretend you owe more than you are worth. Pretend that you know you are going to file for bankruptcy next Monday. Pretend no one else knows this, and you aren't talking.

You nevertheless decide to max out your credit cards for cash and borrow as much from your next door neighbors and relatives as they will lend you. Then you give all the cash to your kids.

What do you think? Have you committed a fraudlent transfer? Or a "white collar crime?" Regardless, would you do such a thing to your neighbors? Your relatives? Should you expect to go to jail for such misconduct?

Or, is this merely an acceptable, clever business plan available only to Wall Street bankers and tycoons?


Anonymous said...

I know a couple in FWB who bought a business one month and took it over the next month and discovered the inventory which was supposed to be included had been pretty much sold off or stolen. Very hard and expensive to get any of their money back and no charges were filed. Greed brings out the worst in people. Wall Street is the worst but not the only place where greed is the God.

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