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Fund manager disappears with big debt

FLORIDA hedge fund manager Arthur G. Nadel owed a US$50 million payout to some of the investors who had entrusted him with their life savings when he mysteriously vanished, an accountant said on Monday.

Investors have now learned their money is gone - and now they're asking if it was a bad investment or if they were scammed.

Nadel's green Subaru was found in a Sarasota airport parking lot on Thursday, and he left his family a note in which he appeared to be "very distraught," said Lt. Chuck Lesaltato of the Sarasota County Sheriff's office.

That day Nadel, 75, was expected to deliver a US$50 million redemption to investors in the six hedge funds he managed, said Michael Zucker, an internal accountant for Scoop Management, where Nadel traded. Nothing in documents indicated the funds weren't turning a profit, he said.

"Mind you, this was a lot, but it was still, we thought, very easily done," Zucker told The Associated Press.

The payment was set to be made after the funds, which had about 600 investors from across the country, suffered losses in October, Zucker said. But if Nadel was nervous, he didn't show it: he was seen around the office smiling and seemed on top of things.

"He felt that he was turning the whole thing around," Zucker said.

Dave Couvertier, a special agent with the FBI in Tampa, confirmed that investigators are reviewing the case, but said that the investigation is still in its preliminary stages. The Securities and Exchange Commission declined comment, and Nadel has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

"What we're really trying to do is get to know a little bit about the victims and their scenario," said Sarasota County Police Department Capt William Spitler. "None of us have any idea what the magnitude is."

The investigation comes on the heels of two other high-profile fraud cases. Investigators say Wall Street's Bernard Madoff lost investors about US$50 billion late last year. Last week Indiana money manager Marcus Schrenker was apprehended in Florida after allegedly trying to stage his death as investigators probed his businesses.

But people say Nadel was known as a trusted philanthropist who lived a low-key life. He didn't drive fancy cars and lived in a middle-class home


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