The Magic of Platinum Partners and the Wand of the Magicians Involved – and the Great Tragedy to Jews Everywhere

Great liars are also great magicians.

Adolf Hitler

[Opinion 6.24.19]

Platinum Partners’ Feats of Magic and the Potential for a Great Escape –

The Existential Threat to All of Judaism

The anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe in the mid-1900’s was perpetuated by fear. The prominent Jewish families of Eastern Europe were financiers, bankers, jewelers, clothiers and well-known figures in art and antiquities collection. In whatever form of religious observance our family members took, they were feared because of their successes not because of their improprieties. Hitler’s hold on his own supporters was dominated in large part by a culture of fear shared by Bavaria and surrounding German areas, of the possibility of losing their German Arian identity to Jews, who did not inspire trust, not because they were untrustworthy but because they were gloriously successful at everything they did. Our family members were accomplished.  There were very few who exchanged education for Talmud even in the most religious families of the time. Rather for many families, mastery of life encompassed an aptitude at religious and non-religious subjects and a strong mentality of self-sufficiency. And, the Jewish identity of perseverance and tenaciousness inspired unfounded mistrust, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. As such, Hitler gained power and Jews were slaughtered.

Fast-forward fifty, sixty, seventy years and the world is seeing an increase in anti-Semitism. Unlike in the past, however, it is not a blind mistrust, it is one based upon what feels almost like a culture of fraud and deceit ingrained in so much of the Jewish Zeitgeist that it is tainting all Jews. It can almost be said that the mistrust is justified, based in Ponzi Schemes, privatized, inadequate education to the detriment of non-Jews and secular Jews and an uncanny ability to circumvent laws. Everything from vaccines and education to financial accountability and governmental regulations, are not outside the scope of subject the pubic Jewish collective is trying to manipulate.

Those of us willing to call out wrongs are relegated to courtrooms and lawsuits with no end in site. As such, anti-Semitism is far more difficult to counter than it was in the times immediately preceding Hitler’s power and during the war. And if our Jewish brothers are not held to account, Jews everywhere will be castaway as pariahs.

The Platinum Partners Ponzi Scheme, the Madoff Ponzi Scheme, the Philip Esformes conviction are so deeply rooted in the Jewish run ethos, they are leaving far more than financial ruin in their wake. They are increasing the breadth of a community of people who hate Jews because we are viewed in the unfavorable light these Jewish fraudsters shine on our community. That these frauds are perpetrated with such grace and ease by members of the Jewish community is a travesty.  That the moral compass of the community supporting them is so skewed it is unwilling to even acknowledge that the acts of Platinum’s Partners’ partners were calculated, orchestrated and choreographed like any great magic show.

And if Platinum Partners’ partners do not get convicted, the result could be catastrophic for Jews everywhere. If we are incapable of bringing swift and harsh justice against those Jews who commit wrongs, we will all suffer the consequences. That fraud is with increasing frequency seeping into the “Jewish identity” and is damaging that identity for everyone. The Platinum Partners case is a blight on our community and it should be viewed as such, whispered like the big C-Word (cancer) when our parents talked at the Shabbos table about a friend diagnosed days before. Jewish orchestrated fraud is a cancer, a blight, a disease of the worst form and if not stopped, it will spread. This is not anti-Semitic but an honest view of the dangers that rampant fraud within our community creates.

The Magic of the Platinum Partners’ Ponzi Scheme was the ease with which it was orchestrated, the complexity of the scheme and the corresponding complications involved in painting a clear picture for a jury such that the jurors can convict. The case was and continues to be simply too chaotic, too scattered, too unintelligible and we opine that this is by design, a master creation by a brilliant defense team.

If the Judge does not rule a mistrial, we believe there is a significant likelihood that this jury will come back without the clarity necessary to convict. Like the crimes themselves, a mistrial or a failure to convict will be deeply unjust for those defrauded, for future victims, for public trust and most importantly, for Jews everywhere and the world’s perception of us. We will once again be viewed as having a magical ability to escape unscathed.

It is very likely that when the Defendants sat with their team of lawyers, negotiated their joint defense agreements, and strategized, it was clear that the first thing they needed to manipulate was the jury. They did not trust their fates to fellow Jews, a jury of their peers, but to the diametric opposite, a mostly African America pool of jurors likely inexperienced in the private equity investment world.

Mark Nordlicht, David Levy and Joseph SanFilippo are smart, savvy and well-educated. They are the epitome of privilege and money. Nordlicht comes from a polished, Jewish, observant Yeshiva-related upbringing. Levy is much the same. These are not men who have ever had to live from paycheck to paycheck. These are not men who have experienced racism or the African American experience, a far cry in fact. And the jury, with all respect due to each of the jurors, most likely knows little about what it is to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. The Defendants are, have been and will always be men of privilege. The jury, as a matter of profiling by appearance alone, does not share this providence.

The breadth of the evidence that was admitted, or excluded, was a remarkable play of legal defense gamesmanship, cleverly manipulated to share as little damaging information as possible. This is not unusual. But anyone who thinks that this was not calculated as the financiers of Platinum’s top brass were defrauding their investors is either naive or stupid. We believe, based upon previous experiences of some of that brass and their closest confidants, that Platinum Partners knew what to expect if their fiefdom fell. And as they were performing their magical feats of financial optical illusions, they set the stage for a worst-case-scenario.

Very early on the Judge presiding over the case ruled that Murray Huberfeld’s conviction for bribery, the avalanche that set in motion the public unraveling of Platinum Partners, was not permissible evidence in the case against Nordlicht, Levy and SanFilippo. The fact that Huberfeld was acting in consort with the partners at Platinum to bribe Norman Seabrook and entice COBA money was deemed to be outside the scope of the presentation that the government could make to the jury. As such, the corresponding testimony of Jonah Rechnitz in the previous trials was also not admissible evidence. The legal maneuvering was brilliant, awe inspiring.

Huberfeld acted as an Agent of Platinum Partners when he convinced Seabrook to invest. He was one of Platinum Partners’ alter egos. His actions and the resulting convictions could have set the stage for a clear picture for the jury regarding the maneuvering to bring in investors.

But it was deemed inadmissible.

The judge has already dismissed the count of “Fraudulent Investment Scheme” from the indictment.  Why? Because the government proved no match for the defense team. They failed ingloriously to use the same arguments the judge made for dismissal, as proof of guilt, namely that Platinum Partners’ partners calculated what needed to be put in place to cover their collective asses, the “CYA” term of endearment. The hiring of a valuation team was not a sign of care and compliance, quite the opposite. It was a distraction to mislead the government into believing that the valuations were conducted honestly.

 

B. Fraudulent Investment Scheme
As to the fraudulent investment scheme, defendants’ motion for a judgment of acquittal under Rule 29 is granted as to the allegation that they overvalued level 3 assets but otherwise denied.
The indictment alleges that defendants overvalued Platinum’s level 3 assets, but none of the Government’s witnesses challenged the accuracy of Platinum’s valuations of these assets. The Government has not even introduced witnesses who purport to be qualified to challenge these valuations, let alone attempted to introduce expert witnesses who could have guided the jury through assessing the values of level 3 assets – which are, by definition, difficult to value.

Case 1:16-cr-00640-BMC Document 752 Filed 06/17/19 Page 4 of 9 PageID #: 10473
5
Nor has the government shown that Platinum’s process for obtaining these valuations is so deeply flawed that the jury can fairly infer that the valuations were false, and fraudulently so. To the contrary, the testimony has shown that Platinum hired third parties to confirm its valuations; hired an experienced director of valuations; and maintained a valuation committee. There is insufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to conclude that defendants have falsified any valuations, let alone evidence that would support defendants’ conviction for fraudulently overvaluing assets.

Contrary to the Judge’s comments, Level 3 assets are not difficult to value if you mark them against the market in which they are traded. The government simply needed to find a market against which to mark the assets.

Justice will not be served because the perpetrators of the crimes have far greater knowledge of their craft than the government prosecutors. The brilliance of the defense attorneys in making it all look so complicated is not by chance. Platinum’s partners took their precautionary measures when they placed a value on the assets well above their market. They had a team of quasi-conspirators in place.

The government needed to bring in a valuation expert to counter what Platinum was suggesting, that the valuation team was evidence they they acted admirably and honestly. Our analysis is that the Defendants breached their fiduciary duty to their investors by over-valuing assets, that they had taken all the necessary precautions to make it look kosher and that this was choreographed with remarkable dexterity. In reality, the magicians at Platinum had performed what is known as “CYA” and had done so with the skill commensurate with their experience, what any good hedge fund manager would have done.

Platinum Partners’ partners knew what they were doing. The very argument that the judge makes regarding Platinum’s valuation team should be the argument that substantiates the fraud: that Platinum hired the people who would paint a rosy picture to cover up financial impropriety. They brought in Picasso and commissioned him a painting, and paint he did.

Platinum knew its assets were worth far less than they were being valued and created a charade. The told “a tale, full of sound and fury” (Shakespeare) but for them, it is signifying exactly what they wanted it to… everything. 

But we digress. As the Judge rightly pointed out, a reasonable juror would likely not have concluded that the Defendants falsified valuations.

We believe, however, that it is not because the charge is wrong but because the government did not understand that the very act of hiring a valuation committees and valuations’ experts was just part of the magic, the optical illusion.

Platinum Partners’ victims are many, a vast range of people, mostly from their own community. Their victims are also COBA members who deserve the best the government has to offer and is not getting their justice.

The Defendants’ seats in the courtroom are full, almost every day while the Plaintiff’s seats are comprised mostly of victims, their lawyers, journalists and those most curious. It is a sad state of affairs for the greater Jewish collective.

For a parent, a child can do no wrong so it is understandable that the Defendants’ families would be making a show of support. But, an acquittal poses an existential threat to the greater Jewish identity.  Not only do we surmise that these men are likely already planning their next major magic show, but we fear the darkness that would come of an acquittal.

Justice should be served. The victims are entitled to justice and the greater Jewish collective deserves the optics of an equitable distribution of accountability, only accomplished by a conviction. But the government will need to start pulling better punches, or a rabbit from a hat.

LM

2 thoughts on “The Magic of Platinum Partners and the Wand of the Magicians Involved – and the Great Tragedy to Jews Everywhere

  1. What are Level 3 Assets?
    Level 3 assets are financial assets and liabilities considered to be the most illiquid and hardest to value. They are not traded frequently, so it is difficult to give them a reliable and accurate market price. A fair value for these assets cannot be determined by using readily observable inputs or measures, such as market prices or models. Instead, they are calculated using estimates or risk-adjusted value ranges, methods open to interpretation.

    • The Level3 Assets that they were trading had been traded over a number of years and the parties trading them had a consistent group who bought and sold. While they were open to interpretation, Platinum was valuing them at points above market, not eighths to teenies above market. These were significantly overvalued. Reliability and accuracy are not measures of what is reviewed for the purpose of overvaluing them, it is a simple calculation of mark to market. Moreover, your comment about “risk adjustment” is exactly and precisely why these were overvalued, as a point in fact. Platinum was undervaluing the risks associated with these assets making them look far more favorable. That would have been a good argument for the government which it missed in explaining how these are valued.

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