No One Would Listen by Harry Markopolos

No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller - Harry Markopolos

This is the story of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme from the whistleblower who first reported Madoff in 2000. It was interesting to see how this particular Ponzi scheme worked, how Madoff got away with doing it for so long, and how the 2008 financial crisis caught Madoff red handed and the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) flat-footed. Markopolos kept reporting Madoff and keeping track of Madoff's crimes until Madoff turned himself in. However, Markopolos and his team only kept track of the institutional investors they knew of/heard of who invested with Madoff - even they were surprised at the charities and individual investors that were scammed and how big the fall out was ($65 billion dollars). 

 

Markopolos worked in finance as a quant (quantitve analyst), so basically he was a back room number guy whose job was to come up with new financial products for institutional investors and banks. He and a colleague first came to know of Madoff's financial products in 1999; his employer kept hounding him to come up with something similar to Madoff's products to try and get a piece of the money flowing into Madoff's investments. Markopolos and co-worker (also a quant) couldn't do it and as they tried harder/were pressured to do so, they uncovered the Ponzi scheme and began to investigate in their downtime. Eventually all the members on Markopolos' Madoff team would leave the company, but they continued to work on the investigation. They reported Madoff to the SEC again in 2005 with a more detailed account and a sham of examination by the SEC was conducted. Markopolos has no love for the SEC at all, as it gets clearer the further the story goes on to the point where he is just repetitive out of spite and smugness.

 

Although Markopolos and team were incredibly smart guys, Markopolos' writing makes him out to be the biggest wanker in the story not named Madoff. I couldn't really root for Markopolos to be vindicated because his personality was such a turn off. And why did an editor(s) feel that the story of how he asked his wife to marry him in any way, shape, or form have to do with the story of Madoff? He came out of that section as nothing more than a creepy loser (after pricing out diamond rings, he asked his fiancée if she would consider his paying for her to get a boob job in lieu of a ring okay, as boob jobs were cheaper than a two carat diamond ring). And Markopolos was obsessed with getting paid for his Madoff investigation - one of his demands in the retooling of the SEC is that they needed to pay whistleblowers a lot more money in order to make it more attractive to come forward. 

 

I would try to find a different book to learn more Madoff scam than this book.