Thursday, September 3, 2009
The investigation into what happened that allowed a Bernie Madoff fraud to exist is now complete and the bottom line is that there was no corruption on the part of SEC personnel. But the sad fact is that the ball was dropped on more than one occasion. The Executive Summary of the report states:
"The OIG investigation did not find evidence that any SEC personnel who worked on an SEC exmination or investigation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC (BMIS) had any financial or other inappropriate connection with Bernard Madoff or the Madoff family that influenced the conduct of their examination or investigatory work." ....
"The OIG investigation did find, however, that the SEC received more than ample information in the form of detailed and substantive complaints over the years to warrant a thorough and comprehensive examination and/or investigation of Bernard Madoff and BMIS for operating a Ponzi scheme, and that despite three examinations and two investigations being conducted, a thorough and competent investigation or examination was never performed."
Chair Mary L. Schapiro (to my chagrin, the SEC continues to list her as chairman) issued a press release that acknowledges "that the agency missed numerous opportunities to discover the fraud." It is impressive that the agency is recognizing the importance of transparency here, recognizing the importance of learning from past mistakes, and recognizing the importance of putting into place a set of controls that will keep this from happening again.
This is indeed a sad chapter, and one that hopefully will never be repeated. It probably serves little to assist those who were the victims of this fraud, but it does represent the importance of presenting to this country and the outside world that the US is going to crack down and regulate fraud with sufficient scrutiny.
Addendum - Amir Efrati, WSJ Blog, A First Look at the Big Ol’ Madoff SEC Report