Business Books: Chasing Madoff, for justice and dollars

Thu Mar 4, 2010 11:30am EST
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By Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) - Harry Markopolos' book "No One Would Listen" is full of details about his dispiriting efforts to alert the authorities to Bernard Madoff's $65 billion fraud.

But a parallel theme is perhaps equally interesting: his account of how he has made a career as what is best described as a professional whistleblower facilitator.

Reports from whistleblowers can generate millions of dollars in recoveries for individuals and their attorneys under federal anti-fraud laws that allow them a share of the funds that the government collects from fraudsters -- bounties for tips, in other words.

But the rules also have drawn the ire of businesses, who say the rules turn workers into spies for prosecutors when they might otherwise simply report problems internally.

Markopolos' tale will provide ammunition for both sides.

Markopolos writes that he first tried to report Madoff out of self-interest, to remove him as a competing asset manager. Markopolos also had in mind that he could collect a bounty for his work, though eventually he learned that regulators did not pay these for Ponzi schemes.

According to the book, Markopolos had hoped to use an appearance before Congress last year to emphasize the importance of whistle-blowers. But that argument was mostly lost amid the scorn he heaped on the Securities and Exchange Commission in his testimony.

Markopolos repeatedly blasted the agency as incompetent and he has since dismissed many reform measures by the agency's new leaders as inadequate.   Continued...

<p>Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff (2nd L) attends his sentencing hearing in New York in this court artist's sketch completed June 29, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Shepard</p>