This blog has been saying for a while that financial fraud is more pervasive than the officialdom wanted to acknowledge. We believe it is not uncommon at big firms (see last night’s discussion of Merrill, including comments), but no one wants to open that can of worms.
However, small fry (even biggish ones, as long as they are independent entities, not famous brand names) are fair game, and mini-Madoffs are popping up right and left. From the Financial Times:
US federal regulators have warned of a “rampant Ponzimonium” as they disclosed they are investigating “hundreds” of possible scams in the aftermath of the $50bn fraud allegedly perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.
Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the US regulator, said the watchdog was “seeing more of these scams than ever before” in commodities and other futures markets.
Mr Chilton said the CFTC, which patrol commodities and financial futures markets such as derivatives on stocks and foreign exchange, was investigating “hundreds of individuals and entities, many of which were related to Ponzi scams”.
The CFTC has filed charges against 15 alleged Ponzi schemes so far this year, compared with 13 during the whole of 2008. If the rate were sustained, the regulator could end the year filling more than 60 cases, officials said.
US regulators have said they are detecting more scams than before as the publicity surrounding Mr Madoff‘s case prompts some investors to question the credibility of returns.
But this is the first time a senior regulator has publicly put the number of investigation in the “hundreds”….
Mr Chilton did not provide details of the investigations but it is likely the majority of the cases relate to small investments, in the range of a few million dollars to $50m (€37m, £35m).
To his credit, Chilton has also been willing to say, contrary to party line, that there was such a thing as manipulation in the commodity markets.