Gordon Gekko Featured Again in Boiler Room Bust
Gordon Gekko is the name of a notorious fictional character played in the 1987 movie ”Wall Street” by Michael Douglas. But the name took on a life of its own in a boiler room sales scam that came to the attention of the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office.
Embroiled in illegal and rapacious insider trading, Gekko’s unethical risk arbitrageur character achieved instant fame for uttering the words, “Greed is good.”
The SFO said that in 2005 it started investigating a “boiler room” operation run by U.K. nationals in Spain. Over 1,250 hapless clients were duped out of £7 million ($10.7 million) that went to pay for worthless shares in companies with little or no actual operations.
David Vidgeon, 30, and Rahul Patel, 34, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, while three others were acquitted.
Part of the alleged scam involved use of contract notes for the share sales. “A template contract note obtained during the investigation was file-named ‘Gordon Gekko;’ an indicator of the business philosophy of the operators,” the SFO said.
Vidgeon and Patel used the “Gordon Gekko” notes to siphon approximately 80% of the investment funds, it said.
Gekko’s legacy is an ambivalent one. Many viewers were seduced by his success, while others felt repulsed by his greed. Others felt some combination of both.
By 2000, Gekko was a role model for aspiring but dishonest young stock brokers in the movie “Boiler Room.” Several of the characters are depicted watching “Wall Street,” entranced as Gekko delivers one of his sociopathic dialogs.
The message, as understood by one character: “They say money can’t buy happiness? Look at the ****ing smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby.”
Like the movies, the SFO investigation did not end well for Vidgeon and Patel. They have each been sentenced to seven years in prison.
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