From Bernie Corn­feld to Bernie Mad­off, decades of fraud­sters and rogues.

Forbes - - CONTENTS -


“He is 49, came to this coun­try 29 years ago with $100 in his pocket and in­sa­tiable am­bi­tion in his head . . . [he]built bridges in Mex­ico and South Africa, con­structed the Flat­iron Build­ing and great ho­tels in New York, as this cen­tury be­gan, made con­sid­er­able money, re­turned to Swe­den, started the con­struc­tion firm of Kreuger & Toll, which is the par­ent and hold­ing com­pany for the whole in­ter­na­tional match trust, and so be­came the fig­ure he is to­day, the in­dus­trial monarch of Europe and one of the most pow­er­ful in­di­vid­u­als alive. —“Ivar Kreuger Scans This Busi­ness World” (Septem­ber 1, 1930)

Sus­pected of em­bez­zling mil­lions. In 1932, the “Match King” shot him­self to death and left be­hind a note that read: “I have made such a mess of things that I be­lieve this to be the most sat­is­fac­tory so­lu­tion for every­body con­cerned.”

Bernie Corn­feld


“They’ve stopped ask­ing how Bernard Corn­feld does it and have be­gun to won­der how long he can last. The 39-yearold mu­tual fund sales­man from Brook­lyn, who built a bil­lion-dol­lar em­pire in bank­ing, in­sur­ance and, above all, mu­tual funds, is dis­liked by many Euro­pean fi­nanciers, spurned by some U.S. fund man­agers and in­ves­ti­gated by the Se­cu­ri­ties & Ex­change Com­mis­sion.” —“Bernie Corn­feld’s Oc­to­pus” (De­cem­ber 15, 1966) Con­victed of se­cu­ri­ties fraud in 1973 and spent 11 months in a Swiss prison. Con­victed of fraud in 1976 and spent 3 months in U.S. prison.

Robert Vesco


“Robert L. Vesco, 33, pres­i­dent of Fair­field, N.J.’S In­ter­na­tional Con­trols, is, to say the very least, a high-pow­ered sales­man. He’s even bet­ter than that. He has been sell­ing him­self to bankers as so­phis­ti­cated as the Bank of Amer­ica, and em­ploy­ing the pro­ceeds so ef­fec­tively that late in Jan­uary he won court ap­proval of IC’S long-de­layed bid for con­trol of Pasadena’s Elec­tronic Spe­cialty.” —“Com­pany on the Make” (March 1, 1969)

Charged in 1972 with steal­ing more than $220 mil­lion from in­vestors and fled to Costa Rica. Con­victed of fraud in Cuba and re­port­edly sen­tenced to 13 years in prison. Re­ported dead in 2007, but his death was un­con­firmed.

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