cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
I received an e-mail from a long-time reader suggesting that I look into a "blurb" on Harry Markopolos, American Hero. My first thought was, "Harry who?"
Well, Harry Markopolos is truly an American Hero and of little renown, unfortunately. Harry Markopolos has spent some nine years of his life trying to help the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) understand that something wasn't right with the hedge fund operation of Mr. Bernie Madoff.
That's right; the SEC has been getting detailed warnings with accompanying information from this man based on his nearly nine years of investigation and it still was unable to penetrate that operation and find anything amiss. Mr. Markopolos is not a crackpot, either. He is a Certified Financial Analyst and a Certified Fraud Examiner. And he had a team that was active throughout this process made up of equally or better-qualified people.
He testified before a House committee in early February and delivered his testimony that runs some 60 pages in typed form.
As he tried to summarize in something that would work as a sound bite for the press, he came out with the following that I've paraphrased. He said, "If you flew the entire SEC staff to Boston, and sat them in Fenway Park, they wouldn't be able to find first base if you gave them all afternoon."
You have to admit that this is a great line. If the SEC had paid attention, and if it had the talent on its staff to make use of this information, we have to question how much sooner Bernie Madoff would've been discovered in the apparent ruse that we've all read about. We have to wonder how much money might've been saved for how many investors, and we'll never know.
Thank goodness for the Harry Markopoloses of this world, and may we have agencies that pay closer attention when the next "Harry who?" comes along with a 'fantastic' story.