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Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Heads to Palm Beach to Distance Self From Bernie?

We understand it's rough out there for successful hedge fund managers who don't want their clients thinking about Bernie Madoff. But Steven A. Cohen's "I'm not Bernie" parties need some work: He invited his skittish investors to golf with him at an exclusive course in Palm Beach County.

Note to Cohen: Madoff lured his investors by golfing with them on exclusive courses in Palm Beach County.

Of course, that similarity alone shouldn't be cause for concern. Let's read an excerpt from the article about Cohen in the Washington Post:

Two years ago, Cohen didn't need to take his investors golfing. He let his record -- a 30 percent average annual return for 18 years -- speak for itself.

"There was a perception that Steve was the wizard behind the curtain," says Vale, an SAC client since 2001.

Good God! Consistently huge annual returns? A reputation for financial wizardry? This is sounding like Madoff deja vu. And yet...

To Cohen's credit, he's displayed uncharacteristic openness with the media. Or maybe he didn't have a choice.

Cohen is lifting the veil because he must, says Peter Rup, chief investment officer at Artemis Wealth Advisors, a New York-based company that manages $352 million for wealthy families. He says investors stopped tolerating [Cohen's] SAC-type secrecy after New York investment manager Bernard L. Madoff was exposed as a fraud.

"After Bernie Madoff, nobody will invest in an operation that is very clandestine," Rup says. "Even the most crass and abrasive managers are more investor-friendly now."

Well, terrific. Maybe we don't need that silly old financial reform bill the Obama administration's been harping about.

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Thomas Francis

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