What follows is the Harry Markopolos complaint to the SEC, circa November 2005, identifying 29 red flags that Madoff was a fraud. This highly detailed complaint was filed regarding the apparent Fraud at Madoff Securities.

It was ignored by the Christopher Cox SEC, which was too busy concocting schemes to dismantle the SEC rather than investigate complaints such as this.




Cox “Worked to Dismantle The SEC,” Says Commission Vet
Zachary Roth
TPM Muckraker, December 19, 2008, 1:32PM


madoff_secdocs_20081217 (PDF)

Madoff Misled SEC in ’06, Got Off
WSJ, DECEMBER 18, 2008


Category: Hedge Funds, Legal, Regulation

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

59 Responses to “SEC Ignored Detailed 2005 Complaint re: Madoff”

  1. danm says:

    The entire system is corrupt. I don’t know how anything is going to change unless there is a revolution.

  2. BG says:

    Now that we have EVIDENCE that at least some people within the SEC were intentionally not performing their jobs and (apparently) instead hid certain potentially illegal activities from ever being investigated, do we get an indictment of some type served on somebody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There is no damn way that not only this particular situation, but the overall global meltdown could have occurred with no one doing anything wrong!! Like “danm” says above, apparently the financial regulatory folks won’t even do their job even if it is done for me and served up on a silver platter. All of these sorry bastards should be shot!!

    Does anyone honestly think this Country could have enjoyed the freedom and success that it has enjoyed if people just half-ass’ed did their job if they felt like it or just failed to do it altogether. Once upon a time, there was an axiom of Pay for performance. Not only should these guys not get paid, they should be thrown in the rattiest prison we have operating and that excludes some cushy house-arrest bullshit!!

    Fuck these SOBs!!

  3. mlomker says:

    I’m sure he owned the best federal employees that money could buy…

  4. BG says:

    Thanks Barry for providing us with a means of learning the truth even if it is disgusting!!

    Why do I feel like someone secretly writing behind the “iron curtain” right now.

    Not all by any means……., but a lot of what investors have been led to believe over the years has been nothing but propaganda and manipulation of the investor class. Nothing but lies, corruption and exploitation of the investor class.

  5. austincompany says:

    We are now six months and trillions of dollars into this financial mess and not one, not one high profile corporate, private or governmental authority has been tied to anything; and now this. If this short history is any guide, no one at the SEC will be punished for this.

    We now live in an age where no one is responsible for anything. Personal responsibility and accountability are things of the past, like sound money, saving and hard work.

  6. We now live in an age where no one is responsible for anything.

    Unless, of course, you throw a shoe at a corrupt foreign government official who bombed the stink out of your nation. For that you get the heck beat out of you in some dark prison

  7. KJ Foehr says:

    As I said before, it was planned incompetence.

    Under laissez-faire capitalism, caveat emptor rules. Unfortunately people actually believed the government was doing its job, so they assumed such a fraud would not be possible. But we can’t have it both ways: the government can’t be the problem, the bane of businessmen and the sacred free-market, and be the protector of the people at the same time.

    Madoff investors have been given the finger by the invisible hand of the free-market.

    Will others will soon have a similar fate?

  8. hangtime79 says:

    The wheels of justice are very slow and untimely…

    As someone who was just out of his undergraduate and working for what he thought was the “most innovative company in the world”, Enron – its sickening that the SEC still sucks this bad. Reading this document you can’t help but believe whoever read it in the SEC, buried it.

    Perhaps Cox had it right, perhaps we should dismantle the SEC. It obviously isn’t doing its job so perhaps a new structure with new people would be able to do the job it has so miserably failed at over the last 8 years. BTW, we just passed the seven anniversary of Enron’s bankruptcy this month and yet the agency that failed on that one is still continues to fail today.

  9. s1gins says:

    Thanks for posting this message, it is an incredible indictment not only of Madoff (and his family) but also of the SEC. This letter was only Markopolis’ latest up to that time, he had been writing the SEC since ’99.

  10. fraud guy says:

    caveat emptor

    That’s kind of funny. Just who bought whom, and for how much, and did they get their money’s worth.

  11. Lars39 says:

    All year, I have felt that part of the problem with the markets was a lack of confidence on the part of investors. It is even worse than I thought. It would appear, as danm said, that the system is corrupted to the point that many investors are willing to get zero returns on treasuries while they decide if any place is safe to invest in. We need clarity and confidence in the system NOW!

  12. grumpyoldvet says:

    But I heard he’s (madoff) is such a nice guy. Christpher Cox, numbnuts SEC chairman

  13. DaveO says:

    Harry nailed it and contacted the SEC long before Cox started mucking it up. You only cloud the issue, dragging that fool into it. Ponzi accusations started earlier, and were ignored. He was caught “misleading” the SEC and got a pass. That agency utterly failed, but hanging it on the Cox is disingenuous.

  14. dig1 says:

    why worry? Marry will save us. after all, she Was appointed by the “Messiah” who designated the previous Fed chair of the most corrupt fed branch(NY) as the government’s vault guard. No worries people. Everything will be OK, — NOT!!!25 and 50 years from now, when we see back to what happened in the 90s and 00s, two words will come back again and again: post-modern and morality. Yep, why feel responsible if i am living just for myself? why worry about my neighbor? why worry about my country? why not? And to think that we delude ourselves really things will be different and say “Yes we can” while hiring the same crooks again and again into the same important positions. I have concluded that this debacle is not just monetary or economic, but most importantly moral. I came across just a few weeks ago a previous HUD undersecretary by the name of Catherine Austin Fitts. I am still in shock some of the stuff she claims goes on in the government. Disclaimer, apparently she is a board member of GATA.

  15. KJ Foehr says:

    “But I heard he’s (madoff) is such a nice guy.”

    Although it’s impossible to know for sure just from seeing some video and a few pictures, I get that feeling too. And, ironically, being too nice of a guy may have been the cause of this debacle.

    I think he was honest in the beginning, and just couldn’t bring himself to disappoint his friends / investors when the inevitable losses occurred. Instead he fudged the data a little, hoping to undue the lies by burying them in future positive returns. But instead (just as one lie often leads to more and bigger lies) one thing led to another, and in the immortal words of Robert Frost “knowing how way leads on to way”, Madoff could never get back to doing honest business.

    As things became more and more divorced from reality, and as losses mounted, it then became necessary to pay one client’s redemption with another client’s investment principal. In this way no one was disappointed and no one was hurt – as long as the new money flowed in.

    Thus the Ponzi scheme developed not by choice, but by the desire to not disappoint and hurt others. Finally, when the market crashed this year and redemptions soared while new investments dried up, the scheme became unsustainable.

    This is just one possibility, and I have no data to support it; it is just my intuition that something like this may well have occurred in this case. On the other hand, they said Hitler liked dogs and was a nice guy sometimes too. And many heinous criminals like Scott Peterson were described as “nice guys”.

  16. ReductiMat says:

    Move over George Tenet, I smell another Presidential Medal of Freedom on it’s way to a certain Mr. Cox!

  17. guidepostings says:

    check the vix during the 2002 low to todays vix. you tell me if that’s not the thumbprint of pain in both.


  18. dondino says:

    Our media controls and manipulates too many of our superficially educated consumers (voters,citizens) that think only along lines of family tradition, religion race or gender to get by from day to day.

    They continually elect crooks.

  19. dondino says:

    i was going to say “off topic”, but i don’t believe so.

  20. DP says:

    More than a little pain. The graphs look very similar, until you notice that our current “low” is higher than the 2002 highs. Scary.

  21. Winston Munn says:

    “Thus the Ponzi scheme developed not by choice, but by the desire to not disappoint and hurt others”

    That’s right. It had nothing to do with him keeping his $7,000,000 penthouse apartment……

    People who can get away with this type scam have to be likeable and instill trust – and make you believe they have your best interests at heart. That’s why it’s called a con – as in confidence – game.

  22. Transor Z says:

    Time to start handicapping who W gives presidential pardons to.

  23. gorobei says:

    Damn, I had assumed the tips to the SEC were just one paragraph “his returns are impossibly good, he must be cheating” stuff. This submission was a complete roadmap to the fraud – hitting on the impossible math, the insane capital structure, the lack of auditing, the reputational issues, and the parallels to other frauds. A beautiful piece of work that even a first year analyst could understand.

    This should be the centerpiece of a biz school case study. Except that, I fear, it will quietly vanish under government pressure.

    P.S. I foolishly promised a post on normal and Cauchy distributions – anyone still want to see it?

  24. DP says:

    Finally read the whole thing. How could you receive a letter like this and bury it, unless you really believed Madoff was legit? You would have to know it would come to light eventually. If you really did believe Madoff was legit, how could you receive a letter like this and not seriously challenge your beliefs?

    From the wikipedia entry for “Criminal negligence”:

    The distinction between recklessness and criminal negligence lies in the presence or absence of foresight as to the prohibited consequences. Recklessness is usually described as a ‘malfeasance’ where the defendant knowingly exposes another to the risk of injury. The fault lies in being willing to run the risk. But criminal negligence is a ‘misfeasance or ‘nonfeasance’ (see omission), where the fault lies in the failure to foresee and so allow otherwise avoidable dangers to manifest. In some cases this failure can rise to the level of willful blindness where the individual intentionally avoids adverting to the reality of a situation (note that in the United States, there may sometimes be a slightly different interpretation for willful blindness). The degree of culpability is determined by applying a reasonable person standard.

  25. DL says:

    No question the SEC screwed up on this one.

    But is the hedge fund industry really calling for greater regulation and scrutiny of itself?

    (I don’t think so).

  26. OkieLawyer says:

    KJ Foehr Says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    But we can’t have it both ways: the government can’t be the problem, the bane of businessmen and the sacred free-market, and be the protector of the people at the same time.

    Madoff investors have been given the finger by the invisible hand of the free-market.

    Exactly. Thank you for saying this. However, the trick is to get moral people into positions of power and who will actually enforce the regulation that is needed.

    The Republicans and the Libertarians oppose government oversight and regulation as a matter of principle (or is it “principle?”). The Democrats at least pay lip service to it, but one has to wonder how much they really believe it when in cases like Bill Clinton signs the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Recently, Obama is set to appoint the woman who put Bernard Madoff’s son-in-law in a position at the SEC. Now, granted, this came out after the scandal broke. However, I think this shows just how difficult it is for even well-intentioned leaders to effectuate change.

  27. danm says:

    But I heard he’s (madoff) is such a nice guy.”
    Nice people don’t take someone’s money and give it to to the other. I think you’re mixing up the words nice and coward.

    He was possibly more worried about the appearances than being nice.

  28. Stuart says:

    The SEC is too large to jail, the corruption too pervasive to prosecute. The whole SEC has to go. Not a chance in hell that anybody at the top of the SEC, Cox et al, will be held accountable. They are all part of this financial oligarchy involving regulators, banks etc that run this country.

  29. going broke says:

    Avarice will always be the norm amongst Wall Street (and Washington) as long as the possible rewards are greater than the punishment. Old laws and regulations, some will be changed, only to open up new loop-holes for Wall Street pickpockets.

    The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you… Gordon Gekko

  30. ottovbvs says:

    Cox is only one of the gallery of cronies and doctrinaire idealogues Bush imposed on the government. Their one distinguishing characteristic was incompetence and/or corruption. Either because it came naturally (think Miers, Gonzo, Brownie, Alphonso Jackson) or because they were completely married to a set of conservative beliefs which were at odds with reality (think Addington, Cox, Rumsfeld, Rice). The consequences for America both domestically and internationally have been a record of damage to our national interest that is without parallel in my lifetime. It seems to have had no effect though. For example there was a editorial in the WSJ yesterday telling us that the conclusion we should draw from the Madoff meltdown was not that a more rigorous SEC was required because they had failed to nail him. The piece of the jigsaw they left out was that the SEC with their support has been pursuing a hands off policy of regulation under committed anti enforcers for years.

  31. Stuart says:

    Reading many comments here and elsewhere, a clear distinction needs to be made between simple incompetence and deliberate forbearance by regulators and watchdogs. What went on within the SEC looking the other way was not simple incompetence. This is key and people need to start addressing this distinction and delve into the agendas that are behind such deliberate forbearance by regulators, not just within the SEC, but the Fed, FHA, DTCC, CFTC (especially the COMEX… aka CRIMEX) … the entire spectrum of the regulator oversight umbrella. The key theme, get along to go along in order to privatize gains, socialize losses. History will record this period as one of the greatest episodes of private looting of the public purse, and to date, those at the helm are getting away with it because those whom would prosecute, are part of the same club. Someone is getting along with somebody, and it’s being allowed. Point of fact, Madoff for defrauding $50 billion is confined to his $7M mansion. Oh, how barbaric we are. We all now know of clear fraud within the banking sector and yet key executives profited by pocketing millions only to be bailed out by taxpayer. They’re not even confined to their mansions. One wonders how loud people must scream in order to get somebody, anybody who can with influence to make amends to look into why such deliberate forbearance exists. If Obama wants to instill confidence and truly make a difference, he will start wondering too and do something about it. When confidence returns is re-instilled in those watching the financial markets, the public will return

  32. Mind says:

    Ponzi for the patsies. Are we all patsies now? President-elect Obama – can you save us?

  33. Imelda Blahnik says:

    But he’s supposed to be such a nice guy! Successful sociopaths are often quite charming.

    Markopolous’ mention of former NYAG Spitzer at the end made me sad. Can we bring him back already?

  34. Winston Munn says:


    The Vice-President just appeared on national t.v. and acknowledged that he approved the use of the torture techniques that were used at Guantanemmo – an international war crime. The President has admitted that he authorized the use of illegal wiretaps – a felony. By Nuremberg standards, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq is the worst type of war crime.

    Yet we expect regulators to enforce SEC rules?

    No one seems to grasp the point – a nation is either ruled by laws, or it is ruled by the whims of men.

  35. 10 cc says:


    Way back when Pelosi declared that “impeachment is off the table”, I figured that, going forward, the days of “accountability” were over (except for “the little guy” of course) no matter who followed Bush into the White House. Hope I’m wrong but I suspect not.

  36. karen says:

    Imelda, this is evidence that spritzer was set up in my mind. i don’t mean that he didn’t do what he did, but that it was a well planned and staged, relentless entrapment…

  37. RW says:

    Whenever I hear it argued that the estates of the wealthy deserve special treatment under the (unsupported) assumption that to do otherwise would somehow stifle entrepreneurship, inhibit liberty, spell the end of capitalism, or what have you I simply recall the cardinal rule of compounding (for those not obliged to spend principle) attributed to Edgar M. Bronfman, the first Seagram’s heir: “Turning one hundred dollars into one hundred-five dollars takes work, turning one hundred million dollars into one hundred-five million dollars is inevitable.”

    The increasing gap between the wealthy and everyone else presents a greater threat to democracy than anything else I can think of.

  38. KJ Foehr says:


    “However, the trick is to get moral people into positions of power and who will actually enforce the regulation that is needed.”

    People scoff when I say it, but I truly believe Obama has high morals, maybe the highest of any president in my lifetime. And I believe he will expect high moral standards to be maintained by his appointees. And even if Mary Schapiro can be criticized for her past actions or lack thereof at FINRA, I believe Obama will insist and she transform will the SEC into the proactive watchdog agency it should be.

    As he said on Thursday,
    “These individuals will help put in place new, common-sense rules of the road that will protect investors, consumers, and our entire economy from fraud and manipulation by an irresponsible few,” President-elect Obama said. “These rules will reward the industriousness and entrepreneurial spirit that’s always been the engine of our prosperity, and crack down on the culture of greed and scheming that has led us to this day of reckoning.”

    I know what you are thinking, “those are just words”, but when you are a true believer, like me, in Obama’s sincerity and noble intentions, then those words really do mean something. This does not mean frauds such as Enron, Worldcom, and Madoff will never occur again, but it means the SEC will no longer be a passive enabler of such frauds.

    As for Clinton, I never saw him as moral, and not even a true progressive. He was/is pure ego with few principles, IMO. As for the rest of the Democrats, many are in the same class as Clinton. In addition, many have been co-opted (like Schumer) by the 28 year long dominance of free-market philosophy; they and Clinton were too weak and too concerned with their own re-elections to stand firmly against that trend.

  39. Darkness says:

    Not to sound critical of Mr. Markopolos, who clearly went far out of his way to research and report on something he could have easily ignored. But in times like these when we lack competent government (like we currently lack competent journalism), the modern world provides for a better outlet to help balance things: Markopolos could have started an anonymous blog called madoffisafraud.com and posted everything there.

  40. 10 cc says:

    And now this.

    Hedge funds gain access to $200bn Fed aid.

    “Hedge funds will be allowed to borrow from the Federal Reserve for the first time under a landmark $200bn programme intended to support consumer credit.”

    “In effect, the Fed will now take on the role of prime broker – the lead bank that lends to a hedge fund – for specific assets.”

  41. texasradio says:

    What are all these random comments about a free market and the invisible hand? These people made their malinvestments precisely because they believed that the invisible hand was really a government fist. How can you call it a free market? The government not only set the interest rates, they implicitly backed substantial debt investments. Then, they made it more difficult for debtors to escape the noose. What, exactly, is free market about that? Did nobody notice that that the auto industry just received a substantial unsecured “loan” from – you guessed it – the US government?

    Had people been forced to think, rather than rely on the government and their sponsored entities to do it for them, the bubble would have never reached such previously unimaginable magnitude. Granted, there still would have been a bubble, but not like the one sponsored – and even insured – by the USA.

    Ironically, now everyone expects that very same government to fix what it broke. That would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Would the real Ponzi scheme please stand up?

  42. KJ Foehr says:

    “… a nation is either ruled by laws, or it is ruled by the whims of men.”

    Yes, the rule of law is always paramount, or should be. But laws cannot rule by themselves; it takes people to enforce them, thus they are always subject to the “whims”, or as I would say, the intentions of those people in power. If they have good intentions, the laws will be enforced, if their intentions are self-serving, then those laws that prevent them from achieving their goals will not be enforced.

    We must have a well educated and informed electorate to elect those who respect the rule of law, and to insist that those who disrespect it are held accountable.

    We seem to have lost that ability in recent decades, but such scandals as this and such economic hard times as these will bring it back; at least I sincerely hope that is the case.

  43. Winston Munn says:


    I am afraid that it is no longer enough simply to try to elect those who respect the law but we as a nation have to demand adherence or we are destined to be ruled by an elite who suffer no consequence for actions taken.

  44. KJ Foehr says:

    “I am afraid that it is no longer enough simply to try to elect those who respect the law but we as a nation have to demand adherence or we are destined to be ruled by an elite who suffer no consequence for actions taken.”

    Your words “consequences for actions” made me think of an irony in that “we” have raised at least one and maybe two or three generations of children (many now adults) who themselves were not made to suffer consequences for many of their actions. So how can we now expect that these people and this society that created our culture of minimal consequences will now demand or even expect that those in business and government suffer consequences for their actions?

    Respect for laws, for government, and for each other; and consequences for unacceptable behavior are two things that have diminished greatly in my lifetime (since the 1960s). Getting it back is possible, I suppose, but I don’t see any signs of it yet.

    We have met the enemy, and it is us. IMO, we will not see sustained change at the top until we and our culture change. As long as people languish in apathy and an orgy of materialism, they will not demand change. But it possible, as a result of this economic sea change we are experiencing, that their apathy will soon be replaced by engagement as serious citizens.

  45. mark mchugh says:

    Wow, the fact that an account that detailed was ignored, is truly sickening. I’m 100% with Winston on this one two. I find crooked cops infinitely more loathsome than criminals.

    One point that strikes me repeatedly while reading the complaint is:

    Paulson had to know.

  46. Bob A says:

    The United States of Fraudmerica

    Happy Holidays

  47. takingstock says:

    incentives-based compensation for due-diligence, and maybe even for lesser accomplishments seems like it may just be the answer needed – for public sector workers AND private.

  48. debreuil says:

    I find it interesting that he was afraid for his life.

  49. ben22 says:

    all i can say is im pissed, seriously.

  50. Steve Barry says:

    Here is my major prediction for what is next…January and February will be “Hedge Fund Smoldering Crater Time”…you will see BREAKING NEWS updates every day on CNBC with another heedge fund blowing up and major name investors losing a lot of money.

  51. CuriousCreature says:

    I’m applying for my securities license and hope to work in the industry after I pass my exams. The paperwork and background checks are extensive. While I’m passing with ease my new boss is uncomfortable with my comments about not being as money motivated as the rest of the team.

    Until the excessive wealth generation is taken out of the system you will continue to see extremes like this one. Not only does the system support it. It looks the other way when it happens.

  52. grumpyoldvet says:

    Curious…I worked in the finance industry for over 25 years and I gotta clue ya in. If that’s your attitude you will have a hard time succeeding. Money is the only thing that drives the industry. Altruism only works when and if you are lucky enough to be an independent advisor….and even then you must constantly strive to replenish clients who leave you for anyone of a myriad of reason…some logical and most illogical. But Good Luck………………

  53. zealousone says:

    Let’s get some reality folks. Attempt to imagine the reaction within the SEC upon receiving a report claiming that Bernie Madoff, who was revered and respected in the Jewish community and Wall Street, was alleged to be this Ponzi master. Does anyone believe that it would gain any traction whatsoever other than seat squirming and sweating in the halls of the SEC? They were put in a postion of damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.

    Once word of this potential investigation leaked out ( and it most certainly did) every powerful ally of Madoff in Congress (i.e. possibly Schumer, Lautenberg and Israeli lobbyists) would work behind the scenes to scuttle it. Even the hint of an investigation would lead to serious embarrassment and loss to Jewish Charities and loss of credibility.

    I’d wager big time that the powers in the SEC were told to cover this up. It is only because the market has collapsed was this Ponzi fraud uncovered.

    The SEC does not now and never has had a free hand on regulation within its mandate. As an example even Arthur Levitt, who as SEC Chairman in the 90s attempted to revamp the audit/consult role of accounting firms. He had to buckle under pressure from the Senate Banking members and that led to Enron.

    There are powerful people who will work to cover this up to protect themselves.

  54. gloppie says:

    Let’s face it, it is really about the haves and the have nots. I don’t give a flick about SEC knowing it, or not, or Obama being sincere, or not, or Bush being an idiot, or a moron….

    All of them eat with real silver-ware. We use the plastic sporks that came with our 3.99 salad.

    Politicians, Presidents, CEOs, CFOs, Magistrates, Movie stars, Business leaders, Bishops, Counts and cunts. All the same to me. Rich, cunning, and selfish bastards that they are.

    The first will be last, and vice versa.
    I’m proud NOT to have all I ever thought I needed or wanted.

  55. Greg0658 says:

    I’ve been toying with doing some figures for this post
    but it’s not my job … and not my problem … well (thats a deep subject .. sometimes wet -sometimes dry)

    since folks are looking for restitution possibilities – folks will look and maybe find

    $50 billion is a lotta mulla for an old man and 2 sons to spend (or hide)
    even with zero interest on them deposits and dividend payouts to depositors
    thats war funding if ya ask me

    c2008 “Bernie Madoff’s War” at selected theatres near you July 4th 2009

    ps – TARPed before knowledge … better not

  56. Greg0658 says:

    pss – on the other hand … losing $50 billion into a black hole in this derivative atmosphere … Priceless

  57. Greg0658 says:

    psss edit -
    scratch Priceless … replace with … a drop in the bucket