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Law Dean Among Madoff Victims

Among the victims of Bernard L. Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme was Lawrence R. Velvel, the outspoken dean of Massachusetts School of Law. Velvel, 69, told the Associated Press that he and a friend may have lost millions of dollars between them. Velvel has been a regular topic here in recent months for his role in convening a war crimes conference to plan for the prosecution of Bush administration officials.

Until Madoff's arrest last week, Velvel never questioned the prominent investor's handling of his money, he told The Boston Globe. The monthly financial statements he received were indecipherable, detailing dozens of complex, six-figure trades he couldn't understand, yet consistently showing double-digit returns. "This all looked kosher to us," Velvel said. "Far from being greedy, this was a deliberate decision to accept lower, steadier returns than what was going on in the market."

Velvel said he began investing with the firm in 1995, after a lawyer friend told him he had received steady returns from investments with Madoff. At a meeting at the firm that year, he listened intently as a Madoff executive described an investment strategy of buying large baskets of securities and then quickly selling them for a small profit. The firm would hedge losses by purchasing options to sell stocks at prearranged prices, thus protecting against sharp drops in value. Velvel said the returns, as promised, were consistent: usually 10 percent to 12 percent gains, year after year.

Velvel did not say precisely how much money he invested with Madoff, but he told the Globe: "For a person like me, it was a lot of money. I'm a law school dean, not a financier."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 15, 2008 at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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