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The Pretender: How Martin Frankel Fooled the Financial World and Led the Feds on One of the Most Publicized Manhunts in History by Ellen Joan Pollock

 

Recommendation:

 

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Arrested Development

Ellen Joan Pollock’s new book, The Pretender, has it all: money, sex, violence, crime and punishment. If you have any interest in fraud and white-collar crime, The Pretender, should be at the top of your reading list. Pollock chronicles the life of Marty Frankel from small-time financial management to global fraud, pulling in insurance company executives, the Vatican, Robert Strauss, and a cast of characters that will be memorable. Frankel is portrayed as a reclusive genius, who convinced men and women to trust him. A strange character who studied financial markets, but had trader’s block, so he rarely acted on his knowledge, Frankel spent a good part of his life sexually repressed, and another part sexually kinky and promiscuous. Along the way, he engineered the acquisition of insurance companies, and then plundered their investment assets. Pollock presents the characters and tells the story in a way that keeps a reader turning the pages. Here’s an excerpt:

“Larry Martin had other reasons to be concerned. He knew something that he had not shared with Mathews or the state officials with whom he was negotiating. Although, in December, Marty had moved Franklin American’s $69 million to a bank in Atlanta, he had it fact moved it again. Unbeknownst to the Tennessee insurance department, Marty had transferred the money to Tennessee, then to an account at Dreyfus in New York, and then, on January 20, 1999 to Banque SCS in Geneva.
Marty had told Hackney that he was moving the money out of the bank in Atlanta and the insurance executive had strongly argued against it. But Marty told him that Marry Martin had said the move was okay, and that the Tennessee insurance commissioner didn’t mind. But as soon as Lovelady realized that Liberty National was an insignificant operation, Larry Martin urged Marty to return the money back to the Atlanta bank before anyone discovered it was gone. Marty stalled. (He eventually brought the money back to the United States, but only after Lovelady discovered it had been removed from the bank.)
Lovelady’s concerns went way beyond the miniscule capitalization of Liberty National Securities. Falling badly behind schedule in his audit of Franklin American, he felt he had to alert his superiors to his suspicions even before he completed the examination. …
It sounded like the paranoid ramblings of an auditor who’d been cooped up with a bunch of numbers too long.
But it was all true. Lovelady had figured it all out. He only lacked the name of the scamster. Anyone who set his memorandum alongside the report drafted by Mike Henehan unearthing Marty Frankel’s identity would have been able to unravel the entire convoluted crime.
There was one problem. Lovelady’s memo fell into a deep bureaucratic hole in the insurance department. Although the chief examiner forwarded the memo to several senior officials, including the commissioner himself, they either didn’t read it, or they quickly forgot it. Later, the commissioner would say he didn’t even recall getting it.”

If The Pretender were fiction, you’d find that the story unbelievable and farcical. As a true story, you’ll be entertained and disturbed as you read it.

Steve Hopkins, May 8, 2002

 

ă 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC

 

The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the June 2002 issue of Executive Times

 

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