Preventing Another Madoff: Reengineering the SEC’s Investigation Process

Case Solution

Mark Fagan
Harvard Kennedy School ()

Bernard Madoff committed a $ 60 billion fraud that lasted more than a decade. The consequences ruined the lives of many of his investors and seriously damaged the reputation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). How is it that the federal agency in charge of investor protection did not discover the Ponzi scheme? The question is more important because a financial expert alerted the SEC to possible fraud and was ignored not just once, but over a period of several years. The case provides the context to examine questions such as: How was the SEC’s investigation process? Why was the fraud not discovered? What role did organizational structure and culture play in the debacle? How could the SEC reshape its processes to prevent such plans? File number 1950

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