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If My Aunt Had Balls, She’d Be Mary Schapiro

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 20, 2010 7:04 PM |

“If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle!!”

I love that line. I first heard it on the trading desk at Bear Stearns in the early ’90s. For the last twenty years, I have used the line often to counter those who would bemoan an outcome with the standard, “If only . . .” My response typically generates a healthy chuckle and we then move on.

At this point, I feel comfortable amending the line from above to “If my aunt had balls, she’d be Mary Schapiro.” Too harsh, you say? I think not. How so?

Let’s review a recent Wall Street Journal article, Madoff’s Ghost Still Haunts SEC:

Financial executives aren’t the only folks lawmakers are pursuing. They also want to see more heads roll at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nearly 18 months after Bernie Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme was exposed and almost a year after the SEC’s inspector general issued a blistering report, lawmakers are still questioning how the SEC staffers who reviewed the Madoff firm and investigated fraud allegations were being punished.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told Congress during an oversight hearing that 15 of 20 enforcement attorneys and 19 of 36 examination staffers that dealt with the Madoff matter had left the agency. The SEC was still conducting a disciplinary process, she said, but it should be concluded soon.

Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida –- home to many Madoff victims -– said he wants to know if those SEC employees ended up at other regulatory agencies, working for companies they were supposed to regulate, or retired with government pensions.

“There’s a necessity to know where they went,” said Posey. “It’s like letting a pedophile slink out the door or change neighborhoods. We’re dealing with the same type of problem here.”

Wow!! Representative Posey is being aggressive here, but I commend him because the nation still deserves answers to so many Madoff questions that have been swept under the SEC’s and FINRA’s rugs. The WSJ continues:

Schapiro strongly disagreed. “These aren’t bad people. In some cases they were people who were very junior and not adequately trained or supervised.” In other cases, she said, they were pulled from one project to another.

‘Junior people’ logically implies that in other cases there were senior people. In fact, the people calling the shots on the Madoff investigation were certainly not junior.

Why were the investigators pulled from the Madoff case? Were some of them getting too close for comfort? Were they asking too many questions? Were they being frozen out by the SEC’s inner circle? I do not ask these questions in a rhetorical fashion. I ask them because those were the clear cut impressions left by an SEC attorney well trained in the school of options trading who was making real progress in deciphering the Madoff scam. To whom do I refer? Longtime readers of Sense on Cents and listeners to No Quarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle may recall my interview in October 2009 with Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot, a former SEC attorney who investigated Madoff. Genevievette was not bashful in excoriating the senior laden ‘inner circle’ at the SEC. Perhaps Mary may want to listen to the interview or call on Ms. Walker-Lightfoot. Maybe she’ll learn something.

What does Mary Schapiro have to say now about the impact Mr. Madoff has made on current work at the SEC?

During examinations, Schapiro said, “We don’t rely on the word of somebody like Madoff.”


Mary has some set of cojones!! Industry insiders have shared with me that Mary kept close company with Mr. Madoff at industry conferences. Now she has the balls to let America know that SEC investigators do not currently rely on the word of somebody like Madoff.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Sense on cents compels me to inquire, “Mary, how would you even know? If you were not able to detect the likes of a scam artist such as Madoff for decades, what makes you think America believes you might be able to detect another scam artist now?”

Yes indeed. If my aunt truly did have balls, she would be Mary Schapiro.


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