The Fraternity of Financier Fugitives

Former hedge fund manager Sam Israel III, who authorities believe staged his death last week by abandoning his car near a bridge over the Hudson River, is considered the latest member of the fraternity of fugitive financiers.

Israel was hours away from beginning a 20-year federal prison sentence when he disappeared on June 9 and law enforcement agents consider him "armed and dangerous."

By coincidence, the law firm representing Israel has another prominent client who is a fugitive from justice.

Jacob "Kobi" Alexander fled to Namibia in 2006 just before federal prosecutors charged him with criminal fraud in a case tied to allegations of illegal backdating of stock options at his former company, Comverse Technology, Inc.

Alexander recently flew 200 guests from the United States and Israel on private planes to attend his son's four-day-long bar mitzvah celebration in Namibia, reported the Wall Street Journal.

His lawyer, Robert Morvillo, a prominent white-collar criminal defense lawyer who previously represented Martha Stewart and former AIG CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, did not return calls for this story, but he has said that very few of the firm's clients go on the run.

"I know over the years I've had clients come in and say can you research extradition treaties for me, and I say 'no.' I'm not going to do that," he told the New York Times. "That is not a service I provide, but if you're thinking of running away let me tell you all the reason I wouldn't do it.''

In addition to possibly Israel, other hedge fund managers and financiers who have dodged authorities and gone on the run include:

Salman Shariff ducked authorities for almost five years after he was indicted on federal criminal charges of securities fraud and money laundering for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from investors in his Vestron Financial hedge fund to buy himself a $2 million condo in Miami Beach, a 42-foot yacht, luxury sports cars and a modeling agency for his girlfriend. He was arrested in Queens, New York earlier this year, pled guilty to securities fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Michael Berger dodged law enforcement agents for five years after pleading guilty to securities fraud after his Manhattan Investment Fund lost $400 million. Along the way, he was spotted in Florida, the Caribbean island of Dominica and Austria, where he was arrested on July 6, 2007.

Angelo Haligiannis snipped off his ankle monitor and disappeared the day before he was scheduled to be sentenced to 15 years in jail after pleading guilty to one count of securities fraud for misleading investors in his Sterling Waters Capital Advisors fund. Last September, he was arrested while staying with his family at an luxury hotel on the island of Crete.

Kirk Wright eluded authorities for months after his Atlanta-based hedge fund, International Management Associates was discovered to be missing more than $110 million in client assets. He was arrested in May 2006 at the Ritz Carlton in Miami with $28,000 in cash and a Mercedes Benz and he hung himself in his jail cell with a bedsheet last month.

And most infamously, commodities trader Marc Rich never came back to the United States from Switzerland after he was indicted on charges of tax evasion and illegal trading with Iran in 1983. He lives in a villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne and vacations in St. Mortiz and Marbella, Spain, where he has vacation homes. Rich was pardoned by President Bill Clinton hours before leaving office on January 20, 2001.

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