Bernie Madoff Actually Is Talking to Harvard Business School

It turns out Bernie Madoff was telling the truth. Well, about one thing.

Back in April, I wrote about Madoff asserting from prison that several business schools, including the one at Harvard, had approached him about work on ethics courses. This was obviously ridiculous, I suggested; no legitimate academic would ever come to Madoff for information.

I was wrong.

According to an article by Wilfred Chan at Ivy Gate:

When rumors began to brew last spring that Bernie Madoff — sentenced to 150 years behind bars for his epic, multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme — was actively working with Harvard Business School to develop a case study for graduate students about, well, himself, many refused to believe it. Harvard and Madoff? Absolutely not! Why would Harvard choose to sully its own good name by consulting such an internationally reviled criminal? Indeed, the idea was so impossible that a spokesman for the B-school itself stepped up and issued an unequivocal denial, explaining that Mr. Madoff was merely making shit up.

Madoff, a swindler and now a kook, too. No one believed him. But Harvard’s denial maybe should have been a little more equivocal.

Turns out Madoff has been in correspondence with an unnamed Harvard faculty member (whose name remains confidential), who has been conducting a long-term research project on white-collar felons. Apparently, this particularscheme was so well-hidden and dastardly that even Harvard itself didn’t know about it.

Harvard now explains that the institution has no official involvement with the man who scammed thousands of people and institutions (including, somewhat indirectly, Harvard itself) out of their savings and investments.

Madoff is talking with a professor who is working on developing case studies about ethical vs. unethical business practices.

Well this makes sense; social scientists have long understood that the best way to combat crime is to understand how criminals operate. Frankly, talking to Madoff makes a lot of sense here. If you want to understand white collar-crime, shouldn’t you talk to the king?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer