As the saying goes, it’s time to, “stop the looting, and start prosecuting.”
Convicted mastermind Bernie Madoff was sentenced Monday to 150 years in jail, the maximum sentence, for his role in defrauding investors of roughly $13 billion.
While Madoff, already an aged man, could have been given a shorter sentence, giving Madoff the maximum uses him as an example of what happens to those who commit fraud.
Recently, the enforcement agencies of the government have done a poor job stopping financial crimes.
Even when they do catch a bad apple such as Joseph Nacchio, who led a $3 billion case of fraud at Denver’s Qwest Communications, the sentences — six years for Nacchio — have been light.
While we applaud the judge’s tough line with Madoff, we hope this just is the tip of the iceberg.
The Securities and Exchange Committee was given the task of stopping financial fraud, yet numerous companies have committed massive fraud such as Enron, Global Crossing and Qwest this decade alone.
Madoff isn’t the only perpetrator; Allen Stanford is being tried for allegedly stealing $7 billion from his investors as well.
As the recession drags on, even more fraud will come to light. Sentencing Madoff is the first step, but more must be done.
During the Great Depression, the Pecora Commission was formed to investigate the crash of 1929. It found widespread abuses throughout the financial system and was the impetus for improved legislation that prevented the repeat of the abuses that caused the Great Depression. Until now.
Was there fraud involved in the subprime industry fiasco that led to the collapses of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Countrywide Mortgage and others? We think so. Should their executives be in jail? Quite possibly.
Punishing Madoff is merely the beginning. We must continue to probe into the causes of our financial mess.