Jordan Belfort, the man that films such as Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street depict as a drug-binging, investor-fleecing felon who was complicit with armies of prostitutes servicing brokers on the Stratton Oakmont sales floor and who fleeced investors to the tune of $200 million, claims that he has turned over a new leaf, according to reports from the Sacramento Bee.
After ratting-out his employees and associates in order to cop a lighter sentence, Belfort agreed to pay $110 million in restitution to the over 1,500 investors he defrauded. He also served 22-months in jail.
When it is suggested that he hasn’t made a real effort to repay the $110 million in restitution, of which Timothy Sykes calculates that the “Wolf of Wall Street” has yet to pay $100 million, Belfort is both elusive and defiant.
“It’s ridiculous. I’ve paid more than anybody in my position has. The government’s view is completely incorrect, based on a flawed assumption, on their part, that I owe 50 percent of my income for life. That is completely untrue. In fact, two months ago, the judge ruled 100 percent in my favor, saying that I am not obligated to pay 50 percent of my income for life….. I currently pay $10,000 a month, which was a number my lawyer worked out with the government, and on top of that I am voluntarily turning over all of my book and movie royalties, and also all my profits from the U.S. tour.”
If the $100 million figure is correct and Belfort lives to be 100, he is 53 now, and he actually continues to pay $10,000 per month, only another $5.6 million will be repaid — a pittance compared to the $200 million he originally appropriated. Further, a conservative estimate would be that investors could have expected returns between one and eight percent annually in appropriate investments, bringing the opportunity cost of what was lost much higher.
In his books, The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching The Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort describes how he turned Stratton Oakmont into, “one of the largest and by far the wildest brokerage firms in Wall Street history.” The statement contains two outright lies.
First, Stratton Oakmont was located in a strip plaza in Long Island, and was never located on Wall Street. Second, while Stratton Oakmont may have been big, when compared with real Wall Street firms, such as JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE: GS) with market capitalizations in the tens and hundreds of billions, and even non-Wall Street firms, such as privately-held Fidelity Management and Research, LLC, which manages over $2 trillion in customer assets, Stratton Oakmont was a small player.
However, it did not seem small to investors like Alfred Vitt, a retired dentist, who likely believed he was dealing with a real Wall Street firm and lost $250,000 to the “Wolf of Wall Street.” Vitt says that he has only gotten about $8,000 back. On top of all this, Vitt also has to pay for a lawyer to pursue the matter, out of his own pocket.
In fact, in the film Boiler Room, the name of the fictional company portraying Stratton Oakmont was J.T. Marlin, which the film points out was deliberately chosen to trick investors into believing that they were dealing with a legitimate Wall Street firm.
Watch “The Wolf of Wall Street” discuss his actions with Liz Hayes, reporter with the Australian news magazine 60 Minutes, where he storms out, declaring, “You’ve got a lot of nerve!”
FBI Speical Agent Greg Coleman spoke about the Wall Street confidence man in an Independent article.
“I have run into individuals who were bad people doing bad things and I’ve run into ones who were basically good people who made a mistake and will never do it again, Belfort was really bad. And while there is some attempt on his part to clean up and change, I think he is still a work in progress. There were a lot of victims who could ill afford to lose that kind of money.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Cohen agrees with Coleman’s assessment of the “Wolf of Wall Street.”
“My sense is that he is only half-repentant, for whatever reason — whether he thinks it sells books and movies better. He says he is sorry to his victims but on the same token he tells the world that only 5 per cent of his behavior was criminal.”
But has the Wall Street swindler changed his ways? While he does appear to earn a legitimate income selling books and making motivational speeches, where he charges up to $400,000, according to the Thanhnien News, his fans don’t seem to have gotten the message.
In a recent Facebook post, Teresa Grubman, an apparent ex-Stratton Oakmont employee, regales her experiences working for “The Wolf of Wall Street” at the firm that she describes as being located at 1979 Marcus Avenue, which sharp-eyed readers will note is not Wall Street.
“I remember that story as if it were 1995 again. I will never forget my time at 1979 Marcus Avenue as long as I live. I never registered there, I was only administration for 6 months, but you sold me a dream that I could work in this business, and I have indeed, all of these years. Because of it, I have learned skills which will help me the rest of my life. Stratton Oakmont was a surreal experience, but a unique one that has shaped the path of my life and instilled tenacity within me.”
“You worked there? Legend,” seemingly starstruck Facebook user Kevin Viles states.
“Still got your scripts?” Asher Redmond asks, referring to the scripts that “The Wolf of Wall Street” appears to continue to use to this day.
“Wow it looks unbelievable place to work I bet the energy levels in the room was amazing,” Vinnie Hilditch adds.
It appears that “The Wolf of Wall Street” sees little reason to educate his followers on how their views may be off-base.
[Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images – Facebook Screenshot Courtesy Jordan Belfort/Facebook]