There are so many reasons to be blown away by the SEC’s incompetence and failure to catch Madoff. It has been said that all the agency had to do was make one phone call or send one email to one of the banks where Madoff supposedly traded to confirm that none of the money was there.
But they actually did that! And the bank confirmed that Madoff was lying!
It was UBS.
Go to the SEC’s big Madoff document dump and click through exhibits 363-373. Basically, it’s a trail of emails from SEC staffers about how they were eager to check out Madoff’s trading accounts supposedly with UBS. Eventually they got a response with UBS and find that Madoff didn’t have the account he claimed to have with them. They caught him in a lie that would have been totally unnecessary if he were legit. But that got them nowhere.
The first document here is UBS saying it doesn’t have the account Madoff claimed it had, and the second one is the SEC’s Simona K. Suh acknowledging that Madoff had given them bad info.