Sat 17 Jan, 2009 10:41 am
Florida money manager, millions, missing: police
Fri Jan 16, 2009
By Jim Loney
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida money manager is missing and police have opened an investigation into the possible disappearance of "hundreds of millions" of dollars, authorities said on Friday.
Police are searching for Arthur Nadel, 75, a prominent Sarasota philanthropist and fund manager who was reported missing by his family on Wednesday.
Sarasota police are investigating complaints from at least five investors in Nadel's funds, run from a management office in Sarasota, that their money has disappeared. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported investors could be out as much as $350 million.
"It was brought to our attention that there has been a very significant number of victims with a very significant amount of money that has disappeared," Sarasota Police Capt. Bill Spitler said. "Allegedly it's hundreds of millions of dollars."
The investigation began just over a month after authorities arrested New York money manager Bernard Madoff, the suspected mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that may have cost investors $50 billion.
Lt. Chuck Lesaltato, a spokesman for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, said investigators were told Nadel left his home in a Sarasota suburb on Wednesday morning for work, but later called his stepson and told him there was a note at his house. The family then called the police.
"They thought he (Nadel) was distraught," he said.
Lesaltato said he could not divulge the contents of the note. The Herald-Tribune called it a suicide note.
"We are following up a couple of leads. We are concerned for his safety," Lesaltato said.
Nadel managed funds called Valhalla, Viking, and Scoop, the newspaper said.
The report said Neil Moody, an associate of Nadel, told investors in a statement the funds "may have virtually no remaining value." The paper said Moody had contacted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other authorities to report the situation.
Reached at his Sarasota home on Friday night by Reuters, Moody said he would make a statement on Saturday.
A call to the fund's offices was not returned.
Spitler said the police investigation began on Friday afternoon after calls from at least five possible victims, and that many more called after news of the situation broke.
"You're talking about people who have lost the majority of their life savings," he said. "We are investigating all of the funds at that place (Nadel's company)."
"Many of our victims have lost $500,000 and up," he said.
Nadel's wife, Peg, told the newspaper, "The way I want to be represented is we are totally open and cooperative with all our clients and the authorities, and that includes the SEC.
"We have nothing to hide. But until our counsel has a statement prepared for us to make public, we cannot comment on what is happening here," the paper quoted her as saying.
(Additional reporting by Steve James; Editing by Peter Cooney)