MIAMI (Reuters) - A missing Florida money manager is believed to be alive, his business associate said on Saturday as police investigated the possible disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars from investment funds.
The family of Sarasota, Florida, philanthropist and fund manager Arthur Nadel, 75, reported him missing on Wednesday and on Friday Sarasota police launched an investigation into complaints that “hundreds of millions of dollars” may have vanished from the funds Nadel managed.
Nadel, president of Scoop Management Inc, left a note for his family that was characterized by a local newspaper as a suicide note. Police would not disclose its contents but said his family believed he was “distraught” at the time of his disappearance.
Neil Moody, a business associate, said Nadel has since been in contact with his wife. He said he believed Nadel was still alive.
“At this point we have every indication that he is,” Moody told Reuters, adding that he did not know where Nadel was.
“If we knew where he was, we’d be on him,” Moody said.
The Florida investigation, which the Sarasota Herald-Tribune said could involve as much as $350 million, began just over a month after the arrest of New York money manager Bernard Madoff on charges he ran a giant $50 billion Ponzi scheme that shook the investment world.
The Madoff case rattled charities and wealthy families in Palm Beach on Florida’s east coast. The Nadel allegations have struck hard in Sarasota, on the state’s west coast, where the missing money manager was well-known in society circles and a prominent donor to local causes.
Nadel’s Sarasota-based Scoop Management managed funds branded as Valhalla, Viking, and Scoop. The Herald-Tribune said Moody told investors in a statement this week that the funds may have “virtually no remaining value.”
The paper said Moody had contacted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other authorities to report the situation.
Moody’s lawyer, James Fox Miller of Boies, Schiller and Flexner, issued a brief statement on Saturday via email saying that Moody was a victim of Nadel’s “unauthorized and inappropriate actions.”
“We are co-operating with all the appropriate authorities, and are in the process of gathering facts,” the statement said.
Moody is also prominent in Sarasota social circles and active in causes ranging from the YMCA to the local symphony. He was the founder of Valhalla Management and Viking Management, according to published reports.
Geoff Quisenberry, Nadel’s stepson, was quoted in the Herald-Tribune on Saturday as saying Nadel’s family was not ready to comment on the allegations.
“Other than that, all I can say is ... we love him. We miss him. We hope that he is safe, and we hope that he comes home,” Quisenberry told the newspaper.
Sarasota police said the investigation began on Friday after calls from at least five possible victims. Capt. Bill Spitler said many of the victims appeared to have lost $500,000 or more, some the majority of their life savings.
Editing by Eric Beech