The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Columns

March 14, 2009

‘I’m sorry, so sorry, please accept my apology ...’

This past week was a big one for public apologies.

First there was Bernie Ma-doff, who said he was “deeply ashamed and sorry,” for swindling investors out of $65 billion.

Then came Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps, who granted his first television interview to Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show, again apologizing for the incident in which he was photographed smoking marijuana at a party in South Carolina.

In both cases, “sorry” doesn’t seem to go far enough.

Madoff, once hailed as a Wall Street genius, spent decades defrauding people who believed in him, people who, in some cases, invested their life savings with him.

He says he did it for his clients, driven by a desire “to satisfy my clients’ expectations, at any cost.”

What he did was take money from some clients to pay off other clients, in effect robbing Peter to pay Paul, as well as James, Matthew, John and Bartholomew.

He said he wanted to end the scheme not long after it started in the early 1990s, but it spun out of control.

In other words, it wasn’t his fault. I guess it was just those darn clients, who expected him to take their money and invest it wisely in order to make them more. What did they think he was, an investment broker or something?

In his statement he made it clear the rest of the businesses in which his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Securities, engaged were strictly legal. And we should believe you because?

“I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done,” Madoff said, reading his allocution statement in court. For once in his life, at least, he was honest.

Madoff cheated, lied and stole, thus taking care of three of the Ten Commandments in one fell swoop.

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