Madoff: "Amazing To Me" I Wasn't Caught Sooner

New details unveiled by SEC Inspector General's office

By Jonathan Dienst
|  Friday, Oct 30, 2009  |  Updated 7:31 PM EDT
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Inside Bernie's Penthouse

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Madoff said SEC investigators who had questioned him years earlier had found it "inconceivable" that he was running a Ponzi scheme.

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Bernie Madoff said he thought it was "over" several times over the years when SEC investigators came to question him.

It was "amazing to me" that I wasn't caught, Madoff said, according to documents released by the SEC's Inspector General. And Madoff said passing SEC questioning had later given him credibility with clients. Madoff said he thought 2003 was the first real time he came close to getting caught.
 
Madoff was interviewed on June 17 by the Inspector General while he was being held inside the Metropolitan Detention Center. During the interview, he said SEC investigators who had questioned him years earlier had found it "inconceivable" that he was running a Ponzi scheme. According to the papers, Madoff called one SEC investigator who questioned him a "blowhard" who "talked tough but did not look at anything."
 
Madoff was also asked if he was ever worried about testimony CFO Frank DiPascali might give to investigators. The convicted Ponzi schemer answered, "No, he didn't know anything was wrong either." That claim runs counter to recent events where DiPascali has pleaded guilty to helping run the Ponzi scheme and is now cooperating with the FBI.

Madoff said in the beginning when he started losing money he had hoped the market would come back and he could cover the losses. "It was my mistake not to just be out a couple hundred million dollars and get out of it," Madoff allegedly said in the June 2009 interview. The Ponzi scheme later grew to $50 billion.
 
Madoff called whistle-blower Harry Markopolos "just jealous" and a "joke in the industry" even though Markopolos is among those who warned the SEC early on that Madoff was likely running a Ponzi scheme. Madoff also denied knowing SEC official Eric Swanson until six months before he married his niece, Shana Madoff, who worked as a compliance officer at the firm.
 
The interview summary ends with Madoff stating,"I got myself in a terrible situation, it's a nightmare. The thing I feel worst about besides people losing money is that I set the industry back."
 
Investigators continue to look into whether any Madoff relatives and former employees helped him pull off the massive Ponzi scheme. 
 
Other interviews released include statements from the former SEC head said he was unaware of any past complaints about Madoff. 
 
All of the documents released can be found on the SEC Inspector General's Web site.

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