I am going to do something I never do: Recommend a book I have yet to read. Harry Markopolos’ No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller.
I met Harry several times — a quiet, studious guy. Very serious. The sort of guy you want doing your taxes.
That he discovered the Madoff fraud isn’t very surprising; That he could not get anyone to listen is amazing.
I spoke with two people who are each halfway thru the book — one I cannot reveal, because she will be reviewing it for a major media outlet (Hi C!) But she grabbed me in the hallway today to wax enthusiastic about it: “A real potboiler page turner! And surprisingly funny, too. You must read this.”
Mine should arrive by tomorrow, and I expect to finish it quickly.
Timeline of Fraud discovery below:
How long did it take to uncover and expose a $40 billion crook? Ten years.
• 1998: My Firm “discovers” Bernie Madoff
• Late 1999: I am asked to reverse engineer Madoff’s returns
• I knew he was a fraudster in 5 minutes
• May: Submission to SEC Boston Regional Office’s Director of Enforcement with 12 Red Flags
• January: Team Member Frank Casey recruits MAR Hedge investigative journalist Michael Ocrant onto the team during a chance meeting in Barcelona, Spain
• March: My 2nd SEC Submission on how I think Madoff is running the scheme and his investment process
• I offer to go undercover to assist the SEC
• Apr: Michael Ocrant interviews Madoff
• May: MAR Hedge publishes Madoff expose, “Madoff Tops Charts; skeptics ask how”; Barron’s publishes, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Bernie Madoff is so secretive, he even asks investors to keep mum”
• Jun: Key trip to UK, France & Switzerland; met with 20 Fund of Funds & Private Client Banks: 14 have Madoff and report “special access to Madoff”; two have admitted Madoff losses – Dexia Asset Management and Fix Family Office; 12 have not admitted Madoff losses and all 12 were turned into SEC Chairwoman on Feb. 5, 2009; off-Shore funds attract three types of investors who won’t report losses or file SIPC claims with the US government
• E-mail records of investigation lost; attempting to recover data from non-functioning hard drives
• Jun: Frank Casey discovers Madoff attempting to borrow money from European banks (first sign that Madoff scheme is in trouble)
• Oct: Boston SEC’s Ed Manion arranges for 3rd SEC Submission
• Oct: Meeting with Boston SEC Branch Chief Mike Garrity, who quickly investigates, finds irregularities, and forwards my submission to SEC’s New York Office
• Nov: Boston Whistleblower calls NYC Branch Chief Meaghen Cheung and reveals his identity
• Nov: 29 Red Flags submitted
• Dec: I doubt NYC SEC’s ability, fear for my life, and contact Wall Street Journal and go to local law enforcement for protection
• Jan: Integral Partners’ $40 million derivatives Ponzi Scheme goes to trial five years and five months after discovery, causing us to further doubt SEC competence
• Sep: Chicago Board Options Exchange VP tells me that several OEX option traders also think Madoff is a fraudster; if SEC had called the CBOE’s marketing office, they would have cooperated
• Feb 28: Neil Chelo obtains a Madoff portfolio which shows zero ability to earn a return
• Jun: Casey obtains Wickford Fund LP prospectus showing Madoff is short of cash and offering a 3:1 leverage via bank loans, another clear warning sign that Madoff is running short of cash
• Jul: Chelo obtains Fairfield Greenwich Sentry LP financial statements for 2004 – 2006 and discovers three year-end audits with three different auditors in three different countries!
• Aug: Chelo conducts a 45 minute telephone interview with Fairfield Greenwich’s head of risk management; hedge funds all lose money except for Madoff!
• Apr 2: Undelivered e-mail to Sokobin, SEC’s Director of Risk Assessment, entitled, “$30 Billion Equity Derivatives Hedge Fund Fraud in New York”
• Dec 11: Madoff runs out of money, turns himself in
• Dec 12: SEC insider calls me and warns “watch your back, Operation Cover-up has begun.”
• Feb 4: My U.S. House testimony followed by SEC’s senior staff and FINRA acting CEO
• Sep 4: 477-page SEC IG Report on the Madoff Fiasco released
• Sep 10: I testify before US Senate Banking Committee with SEC IG