Did ‘sophisticated’ Madoff victims deserve their fate?

The New York Times raises the question and notes that for much of the 20th century, securities laws were based on a philosophy of disclosure, rather than buyer beware. The trustee in the Bernard Madoff case, Irving Picard, though, is taking a different approach. “His theory was that ‘net winners’ — those who took out more dollars than they invested — had profited from the fraud, even if they did not know it was going on. If Mr. Picard deems such an investor unsophisticated, he is asking for the return of net winnings paid out over a six-year period before the fraud was revealed,” says the Times. But for sophisticated investors who made money, like Fred Whilpon, owner of the New York Mets, Picard is seeking not only the gains but any original capital they withdrew — arguing not that they knew they were being scammed, but that they should’ve known.

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