2009年6月3日      英译中参赛原文：Lessons from the Madoff Scandal      On December 11 of last year as the financial meltdown worsened, a legendary 70 year-old fund manager, Bernard L. Madoff, confided to his family that his entire investment business had been a fraud, that he had literally stolen billions of dollars that had been " invested" in his company and used it to fuel his playboy life of swanky south Florida country clubs, glittering yachts, sensational international getaways and multi-million dollar mansions. The sheer size of the money lost is staggering and numbers into the tens of billions. Yesterday Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty to all charges against him as throngs of news reporters and ordinary people (among which, were many of his victims) camped outside the Manhattan courtroom on a bitter cold morning to catch a glimpse of the man that had destroyed so many lives. The real tragedy lies in his victims' demographics, mostly retirees with advanced age, some of whose entire life savings have been wiped out as a result of this extraordinary charade and who are now forced to quickly liquidate their remaining assets to procure the basic means to survive the downturn and some even despairingly to come out of retirement to make ends meet. The craftiness of Madoff 's operations was, admittedly, brilliant: by creating an aura of exclusivity among his clients (only the wealthiest need apply, referrals made only through personal contacts), he masterfully lured his victims by the droves who all sought the promised dazzling return rates on their hard-earned money. Mr. Madoff capitalized on his sterling reputation on Wall St -- he had built his empire from nothing (working as a lifeguard in his teens), rose to become a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange and could boast of personal ties to a vast network of top financial executives on Wall St and even, brazenly, the regulators whose responsibility was to monitor him. Willing investors, driven by sheer greed, lined up by the hundreds to get in on Madoff's pot, rarely stopping to question the legitimacy of his modus operandi, (many) presuming that the strict regulatory apparatus of the government (particularly the Securities & Exchange Commission) had, by carefully monitoring his transactions, tacitly given their seal of approval (afterwards, it turned out that all he was doing was shuttling funds from one bank to another around the world to create the preposterous illusion of financial activity). Ironically not one of his victims was any of the large banks who for very peculiar reasons had every reason to mistrust the man that they counted as one of their own. At the very heart of this affair, lies the institution of trust, that formed the core of the business relationship that Madoff's clients and he engaged in -- the fact that he preyed on mostly Jewish seniors meant that he could readily exploit his " insider" status needed in order penetrate this community with ease (technically, what was referred to as an affinity scam). Given the sheer complexity involved in current investment decisions, mainly wrought by the burgeoning but now defunct derivatives market, oversight was completely entrusted to the government. Not everyone had been duped by Madoff's seemingly consistently spectacular performance, a former competitor of his, a Boston-based trader by the name of Harry Markopolos, had noticed warning signs as early as 2000 that something was amiss, and in his recent interview with Steve Kroft of 60 minutes, confided: " I had a hunch something was wrong in 5 minutes. And after four hours of math, I knew for certain that something was wrong." Mr. Markopolos claims that he approached the SEC numerous times with concrete allegations of fraud on the part of Madoff only to be dismissed repeatedly (in fairness, the SEC did launch a formal investigation in 2006, but the case was quickly closed, without rigorous scrutiny that uncovered no wrongdoing). Mr. Markopolos, and many others, attributes the Madoff disaster and other such schemes to gross governmental incompetence, but is that really the problem here? Perhaps the one person who sees the issue with more clarity than others is Congressman Ron Paul in a recent congressional hearing on the scandal in which he forcefully accused the government of being complicit in the fraud and reserved his harshest critique for Madoff's victims who had misguidedly confided in the government's competence and not pursued their own personal form of due diligence in the Madoff affair.
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