Eighteen months ago a firm that does due diligence on investment advisers warned clients not to do business with Bernard Madoff's investment fund.
The firm, named Aksia and run by Jim Vos and Jake Waltour, based its warning on several red flags it discovered during an investigation. Those included ....
1. The Madoff investment strategy, called "split-strike conversion," is known to be very volatile; it involves trading huge positions around options expirations. Despite that volatility, its returns over the past decade were an amazingly stable 8-10 percent.
2. Aksia discovered a 2005 letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission from a financial advisor who supposedly studied Madoff's operations. That letter asserted Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme. There was also a Wall Street Journal story at the time about one of the Madoff's associated "feeder funds" getting shut down in 1992.
3. Madoff's strategy was bizarre: He said he would move $13 billion in various trades at once, yet Aksia couldn't find traders who saw his trades. There were also no regulatory filings. And family members were running the firm.