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Search for missing fund manager ramps up

The FBI has been called in to help investigate the disappearance of Arthur G. Nadel, who ran a Sarasota hedge fund that may have lost as much as $350 million for its investors.

Reported missing Wednesday by his wife, the 75-year-old Nadel’s car was found the following day at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Nadel, who family members said was acting distraught, had called his stepson and left a note at the house, said Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Chuck Lesaltato.

Lesaltato said investigators aren’t disclosing what they learned about Nadel’s travels.

Sarasota Police Capt. William Spitler said about seven investors contacted police Saturday, reporting that they had lost money through Nadel’s Scoop Management investment fund, on Main Street.

Some individuals reported losing $500,000 or more, Spitler said.

Spitler confirmed Sunday that the FBI had been called in to investigate.

“Obviously, with this investigation there’s federal allegations along with regulatory issues,” Spitler said. “This is not unusual, when there’s this amount of money, for the FBI to be involved.”

Police say it’s too soon to say how much money was invested or how much might be missing. But authorities say Nadel’s hedge fund might have lost as much as $350 million.

Hedge funds are loosely regulated and are not required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as are other types of investment funds.

Also, hedge funds can invest in non-traditional investments. Some hedge funds have even invested in sports teams.

Usually, hedge fund investing is restricted to only the most wealthy of clients. Many hedge funds have minimum investment requirements of $25,000 or more.

Nadel and his wife, Peg, are known in the Sarasota community as philanthropists.

Sarasota Mayor Lou Ann Palmer was surprised by the news of Arthur Nadel’s disappearance and the missing funds.

Palmer said she has had more interaction with Arthur Nadel’s wife than him.

“I know his wife and may have met him on a few occasions,” Palmer said.

“But she’s been very active on a lot of agencies within the community. I’ve seen her at a lot of events and she’s always seemed to be a very positive person in the community. I don’t know if she’s involved in this thing, but I trust that she’s not until I hear differently.”

The Nadels have an unpublished phone number. A message left Sunday evening on Peg Nadel’s voice mail at the office of Scoop Management was not immediately returned.

Tony Souza, executive director of the Sarasota chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said the couple generously contributed to the nonprofit and Peg Nadel served on the agency’s capital campaign committee.

“He was a very nice man — very cordial,” Souza said Sunday evening of Arthur Nadel. “You’d always see them at the fundraising affairs. They were big benefactors. They helped a lot of charities and nonprofits.”

Souza said the Sarasota chapter of Habitat for Humanity has used a special “green” wall system in some of its homes that is manufactured by Englewood-based Homefront Homes, in which Arthur Nadel has a financial stake.

But Souza said Habitat for Humanity didn’t invest in the company.

“It wasn’t that kind of relationship,” Souza said. “They never asked us for anything. They just loved our charity and helped us build houses.”