Ponzi Fraudster Speaks; Greek Finance Minister Too Sick to Serve; Paul Singer Goes to (Mexican) Court: Roundup

Samuel Israel III ran a $450 million Ponzi scheme, left his SUV on a bridge north of Manhattan with the words “Suicide is painless” scrawled in dust on the hood, then turned himself in at the end of a two-month lam after seeing himself on “America’s Most Wanted.” Andrew Ross Sorkin sat down with Mr. Israel in a North Carolina prison, where the convicted fraudster warned, “I’m a proven liar. Don’t believe anything I say.”

Vassilis Rapanos, who was expected to serve as finance minister for the Greek governing coalition led by Antonis Samaras, resigned for health reasons. Mr. Rapanos was hospitalized with severe abdominal pains at the end of last week, as the new Greek government prepared to negotiate with European leaders for an extension on fiscal goals laid out in Greece’s recent rescue plan.

Moody’s downgraded 28 Spanish banks yesterday, including Santander and BBVA, the nation’s two largest lenders, citing exposure to Spain’s sovereign debt crisis and banks’ portfolios of souring real estate loans.

Spain and Cyprus became the fourth and fifth countries to request European bailouts, after Greece, Portugal and Ireland before them. Neither country specified how many euros they would need, though Spain said it hoped to have terms hammered out by July 9.

The coming bailout will push Spanish banks will push lenders to divest large holdings in Spanish corporations, likely at fire sale prices, and precipitating a shake up of companies’ board leadership.

Paul Singer, the distressed debt investor who profited on Lehman Brothers and Enron bankruptcies and a major Republican Party donor, has been battling Mexican glassmaker Vitro SAB through a series of U.S. and Mexican court cases.

Credit Suisse may ax 30 percent of its European investment bankers, after announcing last year that it would eliminate 3,500 jobs. Swiss rival UBS has also said it plans to cut 3,500 jobs, with about half the layoffs to come from its investment banking division.

KKR & Co. is raising a $4 billion fund to invest in infrastructure and natural resources deals.

Japanese authorities arrested a former banker at SMBC Nikko Securities, marking the country’s the first insider trading arrest at a major brokerage since 2008.