Wall Street Fears Manhattan Madame's Black Book
Senior Editor, CNBC.com
When alleged Manhattan madam Anna Gristina was arrested in late February, she was meeting with a banker from Morgan Stanley, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The Morgan Stanley banker hasn't been charged. The two were meeting to discuss ways she could expand her business online, according to the source.
No doubt Morgan Stanley isn't happy having its name connected to a high-profile prostitution case. But that may be the least of Wall Street's worries.
Gristina, also known as Anna Scotland (her country of origin, according to the New York Post), is alleged to have run a brothel that took in "millions" from a client list that includes "powerful politicians, top-law enforcement, influential lawyers, bankers, entertainment execs, and Fortune 500 businessmen, as well as several ultra-wealthy European clients," according to the sources of the New York Post.
Those names will not necessarily become public. There's a long history of police breaking up brothels and prostitution rings in New York without revealing who the alleged customers were. Eliot Spitzer was named in the case against the Empire Club VIP prostitution ring, but that was more the exception than the rule.
But that hasn't put everyone's nerves at ease.
"Every time something like this happens, you wonder whose name might pop up," one person at Morgan Stanley said.
He said he had never heard of "Anna Scotland" or the brothel she allegedly ran for 15 years. But he said he knew that at least some of his colleagues had patronized prostitutes or escorts.
"It tends to be the senior guys, guys who don't want to worry about a commitment and don't have time to pick up regular girls," he said.
A junior investment banker at Goldman Sachs shared similar thoughts.
"It's not going to be a 29-year-old showing up in a madame's black book. It's going to be an MD. And you worry, 'What happens if its my MD?'" the banker said.
One senior law enforcement official in New York City, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and isn't directly involved in the case, said the police are unlikely to reveal the names of private citizens "involved" in the case. Politicians, however, are fair game, he said.
The real danger to Wall Street types and executives would be if Gristina herself went public with client names, he said.
Morgan Stanley had no comment for this story.
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