Believe it or not Bernie Madoff’s phony monthly trading reports listed trades on days the market was closed, or at prices that were far off the market or in volumes that simply never existed. Yet, Madoff’s scam continued for 36 years, from 1972 until 2008, as the SEC was incapable of discovering the truth, and Madoff’s clients never read their phoney monthly statements, since through bull and bear markets Madoff always turned in profits that were not real. And shocking as it may seem, the SEC knew that Stanford was a fraud early on in 1998, but chose not to prosecute as the securities he sold were short term notes of a foreign bank supposedly yielding 12% and were not shares of stock. Imagine the stupidity of that pusillanimous decision. What a bunch of wimps!
Such were the most shocking revelations at a Boston College Conference on the Madoff and Stanford Cases ” The Legacy of Mr. Ponzi,” that the American College of Bankruptcy organized last Friday, at which I was a speaker on the Madoff crimes. I emphasized the lackadaisical performance by the Securities and Exchange Commission as the key absurdity of allowing these crimes to damage so many naive investors who wanted to believe against all past investment history that Madoff’s year-in,year-out returns of 9%-10% and Stanford’s offer of a 12% coupon on his bank’s notes could somehow be a rational expectation by small investors entrusting these two con men with most of their valuable savings. By comparison, Mr. Ponzi was put out of business in a very short time long before there was even an SEC existing. So much for the securities regulatory process where scams are concerned. It is a travesty of justice.
Clearly, the SEC should have had the smarts and the will to put Madoff and Stanford out of business before they were able to do so much harm. The fact that the SEC was inadequate to the challenge should give legislators the motivation to order a review of the agency’s leadership, manpower, and its statutory powers. It appears that the political connections of Madoff and the political contributions by Stanford may well have dulled or dented the investigations into their chicanery and kept the cops off the beat. Especially, as in the case of Madoff, the recent conviction of 5 employees together with the conviction of Madoff’s brother and other high-level employees reveals clearly the conspiracy pretty well included between 15 and 20 people. Stanford’s behavior involved an offshore bank in the Caribbean and so must not have been seen as so crucial to the SEC. It’s ability to make securities criminal cases is far overshadowed by the Justice Department.
After 6 years of progress, Irving H. Picard, the Trustee for the Liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investments Securities, has been able to pay the innocent Madoff investors back 56% of the money they lost. With any luck in another 155 claims for $6 billion more payments, Picard is hopeful of returning 100% to those legitimate Madoff losers. “ My goal is 100%”, he said before a crowd of over 100 students and bankruptcy experts at Boston College Law School in Newton, Mass. on Friday. He has spent $980 million in legal and administrative fees to collect $9.8 billion so far. By comparison the Stanford fundraising is only about $240 million, while the costs have been $120 million or 50% of receipts. Picard revealed for the first time that fabricated backdated trades for Madoff’s sons(one committed suicide) in Apple common shares that threw off paper profits of $6.5 million suggests that they “should have known” the enterprise was a scam.
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For a full and open debate on the Stanford Receivership visit the Stanford International Victims Group – SIVG official forum http://sivg.org.ag/