Jordan Belfort, whose memoir “The Wolf of Wall Street” was turned into a film by Martin Scorsese, expects to earn more this year than he made at his peak as a stockbroker, allowing him to repay the victims of his fraud.
“I’ll make this year more than I ever made in my best year as a broker,” Belfort told a conference in Dubai today. “My goal is to make north of $100 million so I am paying back everyone this year.”
Belfort, a motivational speaker, will use his earnings from a 45-city speaking tour in the U.S. to repay about $50 million to investors. That was his share of the fine, he said.
U.S. stockbroker Belfort spent 22 months in jail for money laundering and securities fraud in the 1990s after his Long Island-based Stratton Oakmont Inc. defrauded investors out of more than $200 million. That story was retold last year in a blockbuster film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
“After six months of putting all the profit from the U.S. tour into an escrow account, it will go directly back to investors,” Belfort said. “Once everyone is paid back, believe me I will feel a lot better.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission shut down his firm in 1998, and in 2003 Belfort was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail. The government said a $110.4 million victim-compensation fund must receive half his income.
“I got greedy,” Belfort said today. “Greed is not good. Ambition is good, passion is good. Passion prospers. My goal is to give more than I get, that’s a sustainable form of success.”
Belfort admits he fleeced investors, cheated on spouses, and was once so addicted to drugs that he kicked his second wife down the stairs in front of his daughter. Even after the fines, he maintains most of his trading activities were legal.
“Ninety-five percent of the business was legitimate,” he said. “It was all brokerage firm issues. It was all legitimate, nothing to do with liquidating stocks.”
In Dubai, where Belfort spoke today, the $100 million film that earned DiCaprio a Golden Globe award, was cut by a quarter for multiple scenes depicting drug use and sex. The f-word is used 569 times in the original version, more than any feature film ever made, according to the Internet Movie Database website.