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Madoff scandal, SEC role under scrutiny

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2009/01/08 09:37

Two more months of mortgage payments and retiree Allan Goldstein says he'll be broke, just another victim in what may be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Goldstein, 76, was among the thousands of investors who trusted Wall Street figure Bernard Madoff with their money while counting on federal regulators to protect the investing public from fraud.

"Somewhere inside of me was the thought that this was a regulated industry. It wasn't. The warning flags were just pushed aside," Goldstein told a House panel Monday.

Red flags were raised to the Securities and Exchange Commission over a decade but weren't pursued, and Republican and Democratic House members said that reflected deep, systemic problems at the market watchdog agency.

Goldstein, a retired New York fabrics distributor, was among the witnesses as the House Financial Services Committee looked into why the SEC failed to uncover what may be a swindle amounting to $50 billion.

Goldstein testified that "everything I worked for over a 50-year career is gone." He held an IRA retirement account with Madoff's firm for 21 years.

Now, he says, he's been forced to cash in life insurance policies to cover his mortgage, but "just can't make it" past April. The only choice he says he has is to sell his home — which he fears he won't be able to do in a housing market that has collapsed.

In a New York City courtroom Monday, a federal prosecutor asked that Madoff be jailed pending trial, saying the disgraced financier violated an agreement with the court by mailing watches, jewelry, cufflinks and mittens worth more than $1 million to relatives and friends. The judge said he would rule on the request after both sides submitted written arguments.


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