From Bernie Cornfeld to Bernie Madoff, decades of fraudsters and rogues.
Ivar Kreuger FOUNDER, KREUGER & TOLL
“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.”
FOUNDER, INVESTORS OVERSEAS SERVICES
“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.
PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL CONTROLS CORP.
“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.