The SEC Is Acting Like A Litigator

Late Friday afternoon, the SEC released the exhibits from its investigation of how it missed the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

And it wasn’t just a document dump, it was a cumersome one — a long list of 500-plus docs, not searchable, description-less.  Each document had to be individually clicked upon.

And while the timing was certainly annoying for those journalists (and lawyers) who had to spend the weekend reviewing it, our first thought was the the SEC was acting like a litigator.

How many times have associates been wrapping things up on Friday when a new complaint or TRO motion or yes, CD after CD of materials, arrived in their inbox, effectively rendering the weekend non-existent?

And of course those documents always come with little or no labels and you just have to begin the simultaneously daunting and dull task of sorting through them.

Today, after some prodding from the good folks at, the SEC inspector general’s office published a description list of the exhibits.  Of course, that does not give the time back to those who spent the weekend digging through them.  (As footnoted noted, the inspector general’s office and the SEC are still bickering about whose fault the timing of the release was.)

Maybe the folks at the SEC are throwing documents out into the Internet like a less-than-kind trial attorney because it finds itself in the unlikely position of being sued by Madoff victims under a negligence theory for failing to detect the fraud years ago.

As The Am Law Daily pointed out, the attorneys prosecuting those suits will likely spend a lot of time looking for the smoking gun in the documents released.  And they probably started that task Friday evening, right before they had planned to go home.

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