Daphne Merkin to the Rescue

Author Daphne Merkin penned an op-ed piece for the Times yesterday and once again offered up a few thoughts on the scandal concerning her brother, disgraced money manager Ezra Merkin, who steered more than $1.5 billion to Bernie Madoff and who has since been forced to shut down his funds amid half a dozen lawsuits. This time, though, Daphne attaches a disclaimer to her piece, albeit one that might strike any rational person as a touch inadequate: "I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him." Did business indeed! But that's not the only bizarre bit.

She goes on say that the people who invested with Madoff weren't really victims, since no one, like, put a gun to their head and forced them to invest (even though if he'd done that, it would have probably been more respectable since he wouldn't have been betraying their trust):

Indeed, what is lost amid the fury of some of those who handed their money over to him is that theirs was a voluntary—nay, eager—association. No one was holding a gun to anyone’s head, saying sign up with Mr. Madoff or else.

Far from it: people scrambled to find a home within his financial orbit, auditioning for the role of Madoff client the way you would try out for a place at an Ivy League college, nudging connections to put in a good word, calling in favors to get in on a piece of the Madoff action. (Although those who were duped are referred to in the press as "victims," it seems to me it would be more accurate to define them as casualties. Victims are specifically sought out; casualties are an indirect consequence of some larger action.)

Now that she's made the case they're not "victims," the they-were-asking-for-it line of defense should come along any day now, we imagine.

If Looks Could Steal [NYT]
Previously: In Quasi-Defense of Ezra Merkin [Cityfile]