Everybody cheer! KBR & Halliburton settle bribery case . . . what about Bernie Madoff?

February 12, 2009

Yesterday, the SEC announced that KBR and Halliburton have settled their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case with the SEC and Department of Justice for total fines and disgorgement of $579 million.   The underlying bribes apparently totalled far less: a mere $5 million paid to a Nigerian political party for a train contract. At this point, […]

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Harry Markopolos undresses the SEC: Is Mary Schapiro the right one for this job?

February 9, 2009

On Wednesday last week, while most of the nation was transfixed by “stimulus plan” negotiations, the U.S. House Capital Markets Subcommittee held a little-noticed hearing, featuring uber securities sleuth Harry Markopolos, that could rock U.S. securities regulation to its core.  As a financial markets player, attorney and professor for over twenty years, I have seen […]

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Geithner nomination reduces Obama’s trust account

January 15, 2009

Timothy Geithner’s tax pecadillos should disqualify him for the nation’s top tax post.  Secretary of the Treasury is too high an office for a brilliant lawyer who repeatedly and apparently knowingly underpaid his taxes by thousands of dollars.  But to be fair, neither should Barack Obama be sworn in as President of the United States […]

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Mary L. Schapiro Obama’s pick to chair SEC?

December 17, 2008

CNN is reporting this evening that two Obama team insiders have said President-Elect Obama plans to tap Mary L. Schapiro as incoming SEC Chair.  Schapiro certainly has a much stronger resume for the job than current SEC Chair Christopher Cox, having been appointed SEC Commissioner first by President Reagan in 1988. It’s an interesting pick […]

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What made Madoff dangerous was too much — not too little — regulation

December 17, 2008

Market pundits are already whining — wrongly — that the Madoff scam proves that markets need more regulation.  Here, for example is Tim Rutten, writing today in the LA Times:

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Bernie Madoff, James Madison and public virtue

December 15, 2008

James Madison saw Bernie Madoff 220 years in advance. That so many supposedly bright people were duped by Madoff testifies to their ignorance or disregard of history and to what may be an approaching nadir in the cycle of American public virtue. At the Convention called by the Commonwealth of Virginia to debate the newly […]

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Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi play: If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true

December 12, 2008

Every time I think I’ve seen the biggest scam ever, a bigger one comes galloping over the horizon.  Well, I take it back.  Bernie Madoff’s is dwarfed by TARP.  Let’s call Bernie’s the biggest scam by a single individual.  Fifty billion dollars is enough to put a dent in almost anyone’s checking account. For lay […]

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MedQuist medical transcription whistleblower case settles for $6.6 million

December 9, 2008

The U.S. Department of Justice announced, December 3, that MedQuist, Inc. has settled two False Claims Act suits, responding to allegations of over-billing for transcription services performed between between 1998 and 2004.  False Claims Act cases often cover six years of activity because the False Claims Act statute of limitations generally extends six years from […]

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Not so fast, Johnathan Weil: Citigroup & the fair value illusion

December 4, 2008

Johnathan Weil called on Citigroup today to “properly confess” the “rot on Citigroup’s $2.1 trillion balance sheet.”  Weil is sure the rot is there because if it weren’t Citigroup “wouldn’t have needed last week’s government rescue [including] a new $20 billion investment by the Treasury Department, plus a guarantee covering about $306 billion of the […]

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“A long history in distress”: Senator Schumer in Rule 10b-5 stock fraud scheme?

October 22, 2008

Many Americans think of stock fraud as a one-way street in which a seller tricks buyers by overstating the value of equity or debt. The reality is, fraud cuts both ways. Lying low is just as fraudulent as lying high. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY, pic right) should know. He is a member of the Senate […]

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