Stephen Sinclair is a Canadian freelance writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.
2020: Has Jordan Belfort paid back his victims?
Updated on October 18, 2020
Though the Robb Report estimated his net worth to be near $100 million in January 2020, it appears that Jordan Belfort has failed to live up to his repeated promises to pay back the investors he ripped off with fraudulent stocks sold by his shady brokerage, Stratton Oakmont, in the 1990s.
Despite this, the celebrity fraudster has recently joined up with RagingBull as a "coach." The Financial Post has noted that the internet firm, which offers training for stock traders, has "drawn fire for its high-pressure sales tactics."
Belfort's $300-million lawsuit against CEO Riza Aziz and Red Granite Pictures drew the attention of Variety. The financing of the production of the film The Wolf of Wall Street has been the subject of scrutiny after allegations surfaced that it was bankrolled with money stolen from the Malaysian government.
As the former penny-stock swindler sold the rights to a sequel, Catching the Wolf of Wall Street, to the production company, his lawsuit "contends" that Red Granite "is no longer able to fully capitalize on those rights."
Word on what portion of funds recovered by the lawsuit will be earmarked for victims of Belfort's frauds remains elusive, as does reporting on whether he, as of October 2020, has paid back any more of the approximately $97.5 million he was last reported owing them.
What did the producers of 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do wrong?
Who is Jordan Belfort?
Originally published on February 1, 2018
Jordan Belfort is a 55-year-old former stockbroker and motivational speaker. Before launching his Straight Line Persuasion system, which he currently sells on his website for $1,997, Belfort spent 22 months in prison after he "pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering," as reported by Biography.
"In the wrong hands, these persuasion tactics could be used to manipulate your customers and the people in your life," a Belfort website blurb reads.
Jordan Belfort became famous for Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of his character in the 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street, which the convicted felon, himself, was said to have played a role in producing. The 2000 film, Boiler Room, is also said to be inspired by Belfort's life, as reported by Esquire.
Interestingly, the Jordan Belfort story appears to have inspired a generation of admirers, such as Canadian lawyer Julie Richard, who appears to be close friends with a number of individuals involved in similar business operations, including Paul Antoniazzi, the chief executive officer of Opawica Explorations (TSXV: OPW), and Amanda Kasner, the chief financial officer with RJK Explorations (TSXV: RJX-A). The stocks issued by each have lost most of their value, each company continues to sell more shares at lower effective prices, charts for each appear to be rife with errors that favor issuers, and neither show revenue or profit.
Perhaps most telling were the Julie Richard, as featured with Soapboxie, retweets of Jordan Belfort-inspired Twitter content and subsequent deleting of them, after the practicing attorney's seeming admiration for the convicted swindler and confidence man was brought to light.
When asked for an explanation of how shares issued by RJK Explorations differ from those sold by Jordan Belfort, CFO Amanda Kasner was, perhaps predictably, silent. Similar silence has been encountered from a long list of invested parties when posed similar questions, including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, northern Ontario Member of Parliament Charlie Angus, and the Ontario Provincial Police, among several others.
Training material for Canadian lawyer Julie Richard?
Interest in financial crooks not limited to Jordan Belfort
One both famous and infamous scene in The Wolf of Wall Street has Belfort teaching new recruits how to sell stocks over the telephone, as he mocks and flips off a prospective client.
After coming to terms with Julie Richard's seeming admiration for Mr. Belfort and her close personal ties with those who seem to sell comparable stocks, the image of the elite Kirkland Lake attorney, sitting in her office, giving the finger to clients as her staff howl and guffaw in the background, is not difficult to conjure.
However, Ms. Richard is not alone in her apparent admiration of the rip-off artist, and of fraudsters in general. Following the Oliver Stone 80s box office smash, Wall Street, and Michael Lewis' book, Liar's Poker, "MBA candidates from Wharton to Wits" were hooked.
The pieces had "the unintended consequence" of "instead of putting the planet’s best and brightest off a career on Wall Street, it made them that much keener to get started. Stone’s movie and Lewis’s book were immortalised as quintessential 'how-to' manuals for the generation that came of age in the early 1990s," as reported by Daily Maverick.
People seem to forget that Jordan Belfort is a felon who, according to TMZ, still owes bilked investors $97.5 million of the $110 million he was ordered to pay when he was released from prison. Despite the amount that he still owes, in 2014, Belfort told Time that he would earn over $100 million that year and that he would earmark "50 percent of his income each year to pay $110 million in restitution to victims of his brokerage."
"I lost $250,000 and received [back] a small fraction of it. We’re supposed to get something every month from Belfort. I haven’t gotten anything for the last six or eight months," one victim, Alfred Vitt, told the New York Post, in September 2017.
In the same article, the Post wrote that Belfort "swears more is coming."
"For the last two years I have been writing and doing less speaking, so [earnings] have been lousy," the con man was quoted. "We asked for a list of who is owed money, and the judge said that the list cannot be released. I want to pay back everyone who is owed money. It’s a moral obligation. I want to have the greatest redemption story."
Lisa Guerrero, with Inside Edition, has reported that Jordan Belfort is still living a "life of luxury." When the journalist stood at a sold-out appearance in London, U.K. and asked the swindler-turned-motivational-speaker, "When are you going to pay your victims back?" she was met with a chorus of boos and hisses from Belfort's fans, escorted out by security, and received no answer from the Wolf of Wall Street, himself.
What is Jordan Belfort doing now?
© 2018 Stephen Sinclair