The Markopolos case

By Simon Barrow
February 5, 2009

The global fiscal crisis is exposing the dark underbelly of evasion, greed and corruption in the corporate sector.

In Britain, Christian Aid and NGOs are backing campaigns against corporate tax evasion which siphons money away from the world's poor - and British taxpayers.

In the US, meanwhile, the focus is on the fallout from the Madoff case. There were extraordinary scenes in the Senate yesterday, when a Fund Manager put the seeming regulatory incompetence of the Securities and Exchange Commission on the rack. YouTube has a video clip:

Stephanie Dhue, writing on the PBS Nightly Business Report blog, describes the scene:

"Hedge Fund Manager Harry Markopolos spent the morning educating the members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee about his investigation into the Madoff fund. It was May 2000 when Markopolos first tipped off the Securities and Exchange Commission. At the time, Madoff was about a $3 - 7 billion fund. An expert in derivatives, Markopolos wrote to the Boston office of the S.E.C. warning them that Madoff was running the “world’s largest hedge fund fraud.” As a hedge fund manager, Markopolos had used the same investment strategy Madoff purported to use in marketing materials. Markopolos figured there was no way Madoff could give the kind of steady returns he did using the strategy.

"Using only publicly available documents and an excel spreadsheet Markopolos says it took him less than four hours to mathematically prove Madoff was a fraud. It took him longer to write an eight page memo to the Securities and Exchange Commission and meet with S.E.C. enforcement staff to explain his conclusion. Bottom line, the S.E.C. didn’t get it. Markopolos says “financial illiteracy” was common among the S.E.C. attorneys he dealt with over the years. He told the committee, “if you flew the S.E.C. staff to Boston, sat them in Fenway Park, they wouldn’t be able to find first base.” -

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