$40 Million Ponzi Scheme Fraudster Andrew Caspersen had Gambling Addiction

Posted on: June 16, 2016, 08:08h. 

Last updated on: June 16, 2016, 08:08h.

Andrew Caspersen is Gambling Addict, Says Lawyer
Andrew Caspersen, who is accused of attempting to bilk investors out of $150 million, and gambling away 40 million of other people’s money. (Image: wsj.com)

A man who swindled friends and family out of almost $40 million was in the grip of uncontrollable gambling addiction, according to his lawyer.

Former Wall Street executive Andrew Caspersen, 39, is accused of using his Ivy League connections to defraud investors, including a charity foundation and his own mother, out of tens of millions.

But this was not a case of Wall Street greed, his lawyer, Paul Shechtman, insisted, but of “addiction and mental illness.” In certain circumstances, courts will consider gambling addiction to be a mitigating factor in a crime.

Casperson, who made $3.6 million a year as a partner of private equity firm PJT Partners, is Wall Street royalty; the son of billionaire financier, Finn M. W. Caspersen. Caspersen senior committed suicide in 2009 while facing charges of tax evasion.

Schechtman is concerned that his client has been characterized by the press as a privileged and greedy banker, while, in fact, his actions were driven by his pathological gambling addiction and, said Schechtman, he had “every intention” of paying everyone back.

Risky Stock Trades

The court heard that Caspersen’s gambling started at casinos and sports betting, and grew into an addiction to making high-risk, and ultimately disastrous stock trades for tens of millions of dollars. He has squandered more than $20 million of his own money and is essentially broke, said Shechtman.

In mid-February Caspersen had $112.8 million in a brokerage account with which he could have paid back investors, but instead he gambled it all on what were described as “aggressive bearish options trades.”

By early March he had just $3 million left.

Caspersen was arrested on March 23 after representatives of a charitable foundation established by billionaire financier Louis M. Bacon, from which Caspersen had taken money, became suspicious and alerted authorities.

Bogus Investment Vehicles 

Prosecutors believe Caspersen had attempted to defraud his victims out of $150 million in total, promising them a return of 15 to 20 percent on their investment. He told them that the funds would be used to “make secured loans to private equity firms” and created five bogus investment vehicles to convince them to part with their money. Some of the money he raised was used to make fake interest payments to earlier investors, said prosecutors.

Caspersen pleaded not guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud, although he is expected to plead guilty to amended charges at a forthcoming hearing.

Caspersen told the judge he is receiving treatment for mental illness, gambling addiction and alcoholism.