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The Lying Crisis If Bernie Madoff

2634 words - 11 pages

"I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Nearly every American citizen knows this phrase by heart; however, lying is a part of human nature. With an epidemic of perjury and false statements occurring at the highest levels of business, media, and politics; America is facing a crisis. More and more people are directing their focus on money, fame, and power. These people will take whatever steps possible to gain high levels of wealth while unknowingly allowing these priorities to shatter their lives and those around them. One man illustrated these exact characteristics as he created the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. Yet, how did a single man carry out this scandal, and why did no one stop him? He was perhaps the most notorious liar in financial history.
On March 12, 2009, the man who created the greatest Ponzi scheme pled guilty. This man’s name is the one and only Bernie Madoff. Kalen Smith explains in “What is a Ponzi Scheme,” how Ponzi schemes seem to appear regularly; however, Madoff's strategy had a whole different twist to it. Ponzi schemes usually operate on a small-scale, though this man went so far as to create a name for himself and did not stop there. Smith also addresses how Madoff’s whole strategy was “keeping his victims close and the SEC off his back” (Smith). The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is a federal agency authorized by Congress to establish financial reporting practices for public companies. This requires companies to file audited financial statements to the government annually. The SEC’s homepage clarifies their mission is to “protect investors, maintain fair, and orderly, efficient markets, and facilitate capital information” (SEC).
Although companies are obligated to follow the SEC guidelines, there have been many instances otherwise. Tangled Webs examines the struggles between right and wrong, focusing on American’s concern of the truth. The author of this book, James Stewart, states how lying is becoming more and more a part of the human nature. From the beginning, this nature of lying has brought forth many problems in the judicial process. By the sixteenth century, the English common law embedded perjury as a crime. Lessening the degree of the punishments, perjury still today is a federal offense under the U.S. criminal code Title 18. Perjury is committed all too often in all fields of business, media, politics, sports, and more. “It’s nearing a crisis,” commented by James Comey, the former deputy attorney general and U.S. Attorney (Stewart). Stewart interviewed this man about the consequences of perjury and false statements. “The truth is, this is an honor system. We count on the fact that witnesses will testify, produce documents and other evidence, and tell the truth. If not, the whole system is reduced to nothing but perjury and obstruction prosecutions” (Stewart). Why would people with so much to lose put all of that at risk by lying under oath? Whatever they may...

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