Saturday, January 22, 2005
Barry Minkow's company, ZZZZ Best, made him the face of fraud in the early 1990s along with Mike Milken and Charles Keating. A media darling for founding a purported multi-million dollar janitorial company that was little more than a facade to fleece investors, Minkow served almost eight years in an FCI in Lompoc, CA, where another notorious white collar criminal, Ivan Boesky, served almost two years for insider trading (in the minimum security part). Minkow's new book, "Cleaning Up: One Man's Journey Through the Seductive World of Corporate Crime," is available in bookstores on Jan. 21. As part of his promotion tour, Minkow gave an interview reported here by the UPI that includes this assessment of the FBI and white collar crime:
Perpetrators don't fear the FBI like they should or like they used to because of the preoccupation with terrorism. Having said that, I'm working with the bureau on a couple of cases right now and they do take white-collar crime seriously. But the perception is that they are overburdened and undermanned for white-collar crime. It's a material concern. And I would say in addition to that -- and you would expect me to say this -- that I think economic conditions are not the only thing that causes people to perpetrate fraud but in this case it's certainly a big deal.
Minkow also has the following take on another well-known person sentenced to prison: "Martha (Stewart) should not be in prison. Martha's victim impact is about $60,000, and she's doing time. Ridiculous! She would be much more valuable on the speaking circuit, telling people not to do what she did . . . So people need to know that no matter how badly you failed, you can come back from failure."
Is Minkow's book self-serving? Sure. But he is also a very smart person, and if you get a chance to listen to him as he plugs the book, he is very entertaining. Will he be able to avoid the lure of investment scams forever? Time will tell. (ph)