As Featured on Forbes - "Finance: Where Crooks Go the Extra Mile"
- Our criminals’ ethics may be questionable but their work ethic is impeccable.
The financial services industry is renowned for being a demanding work environment which favors those with boundless stamina and an unflinching dedication to the job. And nowhere is that spirit of earnest endeavor more apparent than in our criminal class. Our boys (and they are almost always boys) work harder than any other criminals out there. A petty thief is a relative couch potato compared with Allen Stanford, sentenced last week to 110 years in prison for one of the largest, and longest-running Ponzi schemes in US history.
Where most common criminals aim for speed, financial felons often commit themselves to years of toil. A common bank robber aims to get out of the bank in minutes, but a bank ‘roguer’ like Jerome Kerviel, who lost €4.9 billion on behalf of Société Générale, refused to take mandatory holiday breaks and remained inside the bank for all but four days in 2007. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is.
Rajat Gupta, convicted this month on four criminal felony counts of conspiracy and securities fraud, was another noted workaholic. A founder of the Indian Business School and the first Indian-born CEO of a global corporation, Gupta was a member of multiple boards, including Goldman Sachs, Procter and Gamble, and American Airlines. All of which positioned him perfectly to pass inside information to Raj Rajaratnam the billionaire owner of Galleon Group who was found guilty on 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud and sentenced to 11 years in prison in October last year. The crimes may be unsavory but the workload makes you sweat just thinking about it.
And naturally the model malefactor, Bernie Madoff probably worked the hardest. He claims that he began his Ponzi scheme in the 1990s, but federal prosecutors believe it was actually the 1970s, meaning Bernie may have been at this one crime for over forty years – longer than most people’s careers. Sentenced to 150 years in prison for a $65bn investment fraud (the largest in history), Madoff describes himself as ‘relieved’ to be behind bars: “Days go by. I have people to talk to and no decisions to make.” That reads less like a remorseful confession and more like a postcard from a burnt-out trader on a two-week vacation in Turks and Caicos. The man is clearly exhausted. James Ratley, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said of Madoff’s crime, “He would have had to have been at work night and day, no vacation and no time off. He would have had to nurture the Ponzi scheme daily.”
You can’t help thinking: there must be an easier way to steal a buck?