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Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City.
Just over a year ago, Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty to operating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. Today, KPCC's Patt Morrison spoke with the Madoff whistle blower, Harry Markopolos.
A former securities industry executive, Markopolos spent nearly a decade on Madoff's trail, warning the Securities and Exchange Commission that something was up with his investments. He also spent nearly a decade being ignored by securities regulators. Markopolos, now an independent financial fraud investigator, told Patt that the fraud was just so big, nobody believed it was possible.
“They thought it was too big, too unbelievable to be true and of course they were wrong.”
Markopolos said Madoff's power and influence made people unwilling to see the scam.
“If you’re big, you’re beyond reproach and that’s the way the regulators looked at it… If you’re big, the regulators don’t attack you. They don’t even monitor you very well.”
At the beginning, Markopolos wasn’t sure exactly what the scheme entailed.
“I found out he was either operating a Ponzi scheme or front-running. When my team started investigating, we didn’t know which it was, we just knew he was doing something illegal that would eventually put him behind bars.”
“He was certainly taking money from organized crime. If you’re stealing money from organized crime rings, you’re either criminally insane or you’re a crime boss yourself.”
Markopolos says he tried multiple times to alert SEC officials to the fraud.
“I went to my local law enforcement for protection. I let them know this was the biggest case in history.”
Markopolos recounts his experience in his new book, “No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller.”
To hear the full interview with Markopolos, visit the Patt Morrison page.