The Madoff Affair
The story of financier Bernard Madoff, who pleaded guilty in March 2009 to running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of some $65 billion.
On December 11, 2008, Bernard L. Madoff confessed that his vaunted investment business was all "one big lie," a Ponzi scheme so colossal in volume and scope that it cost investors $65 billion. Overnight, Madoff became the new poster child for Wall Street gall, greed and corruption.
Through exclusive television interviews with those closest to Madoff's operation, veteran FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith unearths the details of the world's first global Ponzi scheme -- a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history -- in "The Madoff Affair."
"The first flush of reports came out at a time when many people were still reluctant to talk," says Smith. "FRONTLINE gave us the time to burrow deeper, gaining access to some of the key players who gave us an understanding of how Madoff pulled it off."
In a search for clues to how the fraud began, FRONTLINE traces Madoff's story back to the early 1960s, when he first opened a small investment advisory business and hired two accountants, Frank Avellino and Michael Bienes, to help him recruit clients. In an exclusive television interview, Bienes describes those fruitful early years. It was "easy, easy-peasy, like a money machine," Bienes tells FRONTLINE. When asked if he ever questioned Madoff about his approach, Bienes says: "Never. Why would I ask him? I wouldn't understand it if he explained it." Learn more...
Click here to listen to an interview with producer Martin Smith on WNPR's Where We Live.