“No one paid us, a four man team to uncover Bernard Madoff. We paid out of our pockets. We had to stand up and do this for free, for patriotism,” said Harry Markopolos (in Greek Markopoulos) at the 2009 Sophocles and Louisa Zoullas Memorial Hellenic Lecture on the grounds of the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons. He is known as the whistleblower of the securities fraud by Bernard Madoff. The unique event was held on Saturday evening, August 8th. Over four hundred persons attended from the tri-state area, including former Senator Alphonse D’Amato, Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Margo and John Catsimatidis and other prominent persons. A reception followed the event. A lavish buffet cocktail hour preceded the lecture. Program moderator was Dr. Peter Michalos. Mr. Dimitrios Hatgistavrou is the Parish Council president. Rev. Alexander Karloutsos is the protopresbyter
Dr. Peter Michalos introduced the Zoullas Lecture series. “It is always an academic and religious event held twice a year,” said Dr. Michalos, Program Moderator. “We have heard from prominent speakers such as: Supreme Court Justice Kennedy; leading space scientist Prof. Krimigis, who sent spaceships to Mars and Saturn and Dr. Col. Neimyer who spoke of America’s foreign war in 1805 with the Barbary pirates and the major role that Greeks played as the first Marines for the United States.”
“Tonight, this event is about Democracy and Justice,” said Dr. Michalos. “Mr. Markopoulos, who is of Chian background, is a teacher and educator. He explained to the United States Congress and the entire world what financial transparency is all about. The Ancient Greek Philosopher Isocrates said “the roots of education are often bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
Bernard Madoff cost thousands of investors $65 billion, according to a recent report by Larry Neumeister. “Many people were negligent in the Madoff fraud, including the government’s watchdog agencies. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Shapiro has said the agency has been revamping itself, buttressing enforcement efforts and taking initiatives to protect investors following the Madoff scandal.” In his lecture, Mr. Markopolos explained that his “documentation was buried in the SEC and ignored. SEC had a negative attitude towards his findings. The Hedge Fund industry must be more diligent to customers, revealing exactly what they are doing, and not in secret. This is a global tragedy. Research, Non-profit Institutions, Endowments are now gone. The banking and security regulators were asleep, destroying the United States’ credibility.” His dry sense of humor kept everyone’s attention during the lecture. He described complex events in simple terms understandable to the average person.
“I know I am not a hero,” said Markopolos. “Nor am I brave. We were four men of four faiths who worked against an Army of Bernard Madoff. We tried going to the Press. The Press thought we were crazy and did not print our findings. One may ask where did the Ponzi money go? Twelve percent went to victims and individual investments. Feeder funds and marketing agencies received four percent. Madoff received one percent.” A Ponzi scheme uses money from new clients to pay off old ones. According to a recent interview with Bernard Madoff in Neumeister’s article, “it might be in many different venues …because money was paid out to Feeders.”
Markopoulos believes the Feeder Agencies helped Madoff to succeed. “Greeks are tactless. I tell it like it is. Madoff did not allow outside audits, taking money from organized crime and nations. Forty-nine nations were affected by this Ponzi scheme. We are now less trusting of financial institutions. What frightened our team of four persons was that the Press could not take Madoff down. He was the President of Nasdag. We were really worried about ourselves. I believed that if Madoff found out I turned him in, I would not be long for this world.”
Mr. Harry Markopoulos was born in Erie, Pennsylvania in a tight knit Greek-American family. Mrs. Mary Karas, who attended the lecture, was the goddaughter of his grandmother, Mrs. Pappas. “We were good friends with his parents. Harry has a great personality, like the rest of his family.” His seventeen year military background in the Army National Guard and Reserve, where he served as a lieutenant to major, was revealed in his lecture by describing his strategy against Madoff in military terms. His brilliance as a mathematician is legendary.
(Source: hellenicnews.com / Catherine Tsounis)