Written by Scott Jacobs
Right off the bat, you had the sense this was not going to be your run of the mill securities conference. Katten Muchin partner Anthony Paccione, relayed a story about a fellow worker and a deafening silence was the result among attendees of the HB Conferences Madoff Investment Fraud Conference.
“There are some stories that are probably not even being told, including that of an associate who came to my office on December 12. He said, ‘My grandfather woke up this morning and now has to live on Social Security, having sold his house and put all of his money into Mr. Madoff’s account.’”
With that statement, Paccione brought the gravity of the situation home to attendees of this landmark conference. It wasn’t just somebody’s else’s money — it was their co-worker’s money lost, it was your grandfather’s money, it was your parents’ inheritance — it could be your inheritance. This was something that could happen to anybody.
While, Paccione reminded attendees that much of the attention has been focused on the Kevin Bacons of the world who have lost millions, the associate where you work probably just saw his inheritance — his grandfather’s life savings — reduced to dust.
The conference started with an emotional peak. “Those stories are very powerful,” Paccione told the gathering in New York. “However, ultimately – and I told the reporter today – I think the reason why this is getting so much interest is that Mr. Madoff and this scandal are really very typical of what’s going on in the economy today. People are wanting explanations as to what’s going on in the economy today.”
A joke would not have been the way to begin the conference, Paccione said referring to a Madoff doll being marketing as ready-made to be destroyed by a sledgehammer. Ah, the irony of making something to be destroyed but Paccione demurred. Then, I started to think, ‘Do you know what? This is much too tragic a series of events for some of our clients.’ Charities have gone under. Individuals are suffering. People are forced to sell their homes. So, while I like to crack a joke here and there – and probably will nonetheless – I think it’s important to recognize the gravity of this Madoff scandal and the pain that’s being suffered by many of our clients,” said Paccione.
You can listen to these comments and more in a free clip available on this site. Also, the full recording plus the materials and transcript are available from HB.