The Securities and Exchange Commission learned about what it describes as one of the largest securities frauds in history when Bernard L. Madoff volunteered his confession, raising questions about the agency's ability to police the financial marketplace.
The SEC had the authority to investigate Madoff's investment business, which managed billions of dollars for wealthy investors and philanthropies. Financial analysts raised concerns about Madoff's practices repeatedly over the past decade, including a 1999 letter to the SEC that accused Madoff of running a Ponzi scheme. But the agency did not conduct even a routine examination of the investment business until last wee
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