While we no longer need to worry about the whereabouts of the habitually slippery Norman Hsu, there's another central figure in this Democratic fundraising/investment fraud scandal that may have slithered away amid the sensational hubbub.
Winkle Paw, Hsu's most delightfully named associate, seems to have turned up missing.
According to campaign finance disclosures, Paw has served as everything from project analyst to CEO at a handful of Hsu's companies, including Components, Ltd., Next Components, Next Electronics, and CoolPowers (though that last one could've been a poor transcription of the word "Components" by a Tom Harkin campaign staffer). Paw was actually CEO of Next Components (one of those companies I couldn't seem to locate in my tour of Hsu's facilities) nearly two years before becoming a business analyst at the firm this summer, according to the filings, which is an interesting career trajectory.
Up through 2005, Paw also listed the (legitimate) investment management firm Franklin Templeton as his employer on more than two dozen filings, where he was also variably a "project analyst" or a "business analyst" (never making it to CEO though). A visitor from the firm's San Mateo office visited this site yesterday, linking in from a search on "Winkle Paw", possibly a concerned cube-mate wondering if she can stop watering his plants.
In all, Winkle made more than $150,000 in political contributions to at least 40 Hsu-favored candidates and committees since 2004. 6 other members of the Paw family (all holed up in that cozy green house in Daly City) gave another $143,000. Khin Mon, who may or may not be related to the Paws (but who, as reported here first, also resides in the Paw house), gave another $12,000 over the same period.
In addition to Winkle Paw's association with Hsu-owned businesses, I'm told that Hsu reportedly indicated to Martin Waters (the manager of the Orange County investment fund that Hsu is now accused of defrauding out of $23 million) that he had designated Paw an authorized signatory on his bank account, such that their business dealings could continue should anything happen to Hsu. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, the day before the San Mateo court appearance that Hsu would fail to make, Waters (still presuming Hsu's business dealings to be legitimate) offered to step into Hsu's... well, shoes during any period of incarceration that might follow. When Hsu balked, the fund manager reportedly told him he preferred to pull out of the pending deal under the circumstances, leading Hsu to threaten to lock him out of future deals in retribution.
Around that same time, Hsu was apparently Fed Exing off a bunch of copies of what appeared to recipients to be a suicide note. By the next morning, he had vanished, his lawyers left feckless in a San Mateo courthouse. While Hsu would be nabbed the following day, half naked and "freaking out" aboard a Denver-bound train, Paw may have slipped away cleanly.
As far as I'm aware, no state or federal charges have been filed against Paw. But plenty have been filed against Hsu, relating both to alleged illegal contribution reimbursements and to the alleged ponzi schemes in New York and California. And if Paw is Hsu's #2, as is suggested by the financial disclosures and the prospect of Paw having signing authority on Hsu's accounts, then it seems plausible that serious charges could be in Paw's future.
We also don't know for sure that Winkle has deliberately vanished. It could simply be that the authorities aren't looking for him (he's not listed as wanted in California). But if they're not hunting for him, maybe they ought to be. The Orange County investors haven't been able to reach him since the morning Hsu lit out for Denver. That was three weeks ago. If - let's say - Paw was on that train too, keeping his cool a bit better than his pill-popping partner, and if he had access to even a small fraction of the millions in liquid assets at Hsu's disposal, Winkle just may have winked out of this story for good.
And if Paw was a trained and semi-legitimate professional investment manager who had signing authority on Hsu's accounts, he likely has more than a passing familiarity with the inner-workings of his shadowy dealings. If the 100 or more investors in the funds that Hsu is alleged to have defrauded are to have a shot at recovering some of their lost investments (which may exceed $60 million), determining Winkle's whereabouts would seem to be a crucial next step.
I'd post a picture if I had one handy, but I don't know that I've ever come across a picture of Winkle. A Google Image search for "winkle paw" not surprisingly fetches mainly precious kittens and teddy bears. If anyone's got a link to a reliable picture of Mr. Paw, let me know and I'll point it out.
And if you are Mr. Paw, or his cube-mate or whathaveyou, and want to solve the "Where's Winkle" puzzle for us, I think there are a lot of ticked off investors that would appreciate it.
[Hsu archives after the jump.]
- Hsadows Of Hillary Throughout Hsu's Benefaction
- Correction re: Lillian Vernon, Fred Hochberg, Norman Hsu
- Hsocking Hsu Secrets Revealed!
- Runaround Hsu: The Music Video
- Hillary, Truth Not At Peace Over $850,000 Said Refunded [Update: Feds File Charges]
- Another Clinton Bundler Accused of Reimbursing Donors
- Hsu, Recobbled
- Some Oddities About Hsu's Ostensibly Unwitting Woodstock Backer
- Mesa County DA: $4 Million Bond Not Enough To Cage Hsu [Update: $5 Million Is?]
- Dems Lowballing Hsu Fundraising Totals [Update: Hsu Offsets?]
- Hsu Sent Suicide Note [Update: Blaming Obama]
- Federal Agencies Unofficially Probing Hsu Scandal Number [At Least] 4
- Hsu's Financing Source Revealed
- Hillary's Massive Hsu War Chest: Abramoff Parity Nears
- Photoblog: Touring Norman Hsu's New York
- Hsu Captured! (Drugged?)
- Hsu Still A HillRaiser In Good Standing?
- Knock, Knock, Knockin' On Norman's Door.
- Hsu Reclaims Fugitive Status, Forfeiting $2 Million Bail
- Hsu vs. Abramoff
- New Hsu Review: Following [the Rest Of] the Money
- A Really Big Hsu...
- Hillary Vows To Give [At Least Some Of] Hsu Contributions To Charity
- From Now On, When the Phone Rings You Say, "Vandelay Industries."
- Hillary's Magwitch?
Handcrafted by Flip on September 27, 2007 |
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where's Winkle?:
» A Winkle in Time from JunkYardBlog
So where's Norman Hsu's buddy and apparent straw donor Winkle Paw? Flip Pidot wants to know, and so do a lot of angry investors. I'm sure Paw will want to come up and clear his name immediately. Doug Ross has... [Read More]
Tracked on Sep 29, 2007 2:42:42 PM
Tracked on Oct 1, 2007 1:01:33 PM
Tracked on Apr 7, 2008 4:48:44 PM
Tracked on Apr 11, 2008 11:25:08 AM
Tracked on Apr 12, 2008 12:59:04 AM
Tracked on Apr 12, 2008 3:27:42 AM
Tracked on Apr 13, 2008 1:02:53 AM
Tracked on Apr 18, 2008 2:16:32 PM
Tracked on Apr 18, 2008 2:43:11 PM