Yes Bernie Madoff was bent, yes he was a crook, but let’s not kid ourselves that Bernie’s conviction and jailing somehow is testimony to speedy and swift American justice.
Far from it; Bernie dobbed himself in and pleaded guilty in March and saved the US regulators a long and tedious case of tracking down what he did and getting him to confess.
Despite facing 150 years in jail, which he got overnight, Bernie has refused to help investigators unravel his fraud.
Bernie will now become the pin up criminal for the credit crunch and recession. But that’s rewriting history to protect the truly guilty.
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Madoff, like Allco, ABC Learning, subprime mortgages and Babcock and Brown, are all testimony to slack and poor regulation of the markets, just like Alan Bond was 19 years and more ago. He is also testimony to the incompetent regulators, bankers, industry figures and others who allowed him to flourish (especially those in Congress who received tens of thousands of dollars in donations).
Bernie should really become is a pin up criminal for incompetence, who was allowed to escape for decades by incompetent regulation: both of the traditional black letter legal type and self-regulation. Bernie fooled all the checks and balances and became head of NADAQ. His auditing firm was a small one and a half person operation in suburban New York: the auditing groups and other regulators let that one go through to the keeper.
As well, investors who didn’t check what he was doing, before investing with him (and that includes some large banks) should also bear some of the blame). Those that checked and didn’t like what they found and tried to tell the SEC and others, were ignored.
But the primary blame rests with America’s Securities & Exchange Commission, the central regulator, which was warned about him, but apart from some rudimentary checks, did absolutely nothing.
Other players for the blame game should include the former George Bush dominated administration with its mantra of light touch regulation: tens of millions of people have felt a heavier impact from the incompetence of US regulators who gave us the credit crunch, courtesy of the subprime mortgage disaster that is still destroying American housing.
Through boom and bust Bernie Madoff (AKA Made-off with the money) got away with his scam, even when the economy did poorly he did well, even when the market boomed, he did OK, nothing great, but enough to keep people happy. If he hadn’t lost his nerve as the market slumped in December and gave himself up, Bernie would probably still be running his scam, and the world would be still oblivious to it.
But it must also be said that Bernie turned himself in and hasn’t contested the case against him; if he had we wouldn’t have seen him sentenced overnight.
We would have been waiting years if he had fought the charges and his lack of co-operation tells how hard it would have been to put the case against him together. His was an easy scalp, he offered it himself.
Somewhat amazingly US investigators still have no idea how much Bernie stole from clients, and how much was returned. No one can work out whether he made money at all, or made some and topped up returns with payments from incoming investors’ funds. Why, because despite his confession, Bernie isn’t saying a thing.
About $US13 billion has been traced to more than 1,300 customer accounts and the trustee winding down the Madoff firm has so far collected $US1.2 billion to return to investors.
Now that he’s been sentenced, you watch the American business and other elites try and use his case as a way of ruling off the losses and other loss making disasters we saw in the credit crunch from the subprime machine and the incompetent banks.
Bernie Madoff was allowed to flourish by the inept regulation of his activities, just as the biggest financial crisis seen in 80 years was allowed to flourish. Regulators at all levels and all types, governments of all kinds in the US allowed the rorts to develop to a point where bailing out the banks and the economy as a whole has enfeebled the US economy for years to come.