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Was Rolex a Victim of Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme?

Did Bernie Madoff Victimize Rolex?


In late December 2008, during the earlier stages of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme fiasco, Montres Rolex SA, based in Geneva, Switzerland, declared Bruno Meier as its fourth Chairman in its 104 year history. The move was surprising to many, as former Rolex USA CEO, Patrick Heiniger led the company since 1992 after replacing his father, Andre, who succeeded original Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf. The Heinigers are known to be responsible for evolving Rolex from a watch manufacturer to a luxury brand juggernaut through accomplishing sustained growth in their respective eras.


That said, Mr. Heiniger, who left Rolex to “pursue personal projects”, left at a very interesting time. Though he will remain and adviser to the company, with the world’s economy in crisis, many could say that this is not the time for uncertainty or change in proven leadership. That said, L’Agefi, a Swiss financial newspaper, reported on December 19 that Rolex SA had lost £600M in the Madoff Ponzi fraud. Rolex immediately renounced the rumor via this response: “(Rolex) formally denies any implication with the Madoff affair”. Due to Rolex being a very guarded company, and the Madoff victimized finance agencies having to honor the confidentiality of clients implicated in the Ponzi fraud, it will perhaps never be known for sure if the company was indeed negatively exposed, and if Heiniger was responsible for the rumored loss.


Montres Rolex SA is a privately held company that is controlled by the Wilsdorf Family Trust. It is understood that a portion of the company’s revenues are set aside for charitable foundations, so if there is any truth to this rumor, it is indeed quite disturbing. On a lighter note, this is eerily similar to Mr. Obama and his constituents’ collectivist initiatives as they the company has been, for many decades, profiting from selling watches to the upper-middle class and passing along the “wealth” to those in need.