Family: Markopolos is married to Faith Markopolos, who also works in the financial industry. They have three sons.
Where is he from: He’s from Eerie, Pennsylvania. He’s the oldest of three children, and his parents, Georgia and Louis Markopolos, ran Greek-American restaurants.
Career: Markopolos started his career on Wall Street as a broker with Makefield Securities, a small brokerage based in Eerie, Pennsylvania. He went on to work at Darien Capital Management and Rampart Investment Management, where he first spotted problems in Bernard Madoff’s firm’s revenue streams. Today, he works as a forensic accounting analyst for attorneys suing companies under the False Claims Act.
Education: Markopolos has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Loyola College in Maryland, and an MS from Boston College. He also is a CFA charterholder and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).
How did Markopolos get to where he is now?
Markopolos is an accounting expert who started looking into Bernie Madoff’s firm in 1999, when he first suspected that the investment business was actually a fraud, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2010.
After doing analytical detective work where he tried to replicate Madoff’s returns, Markopolos figured out that Madoff must be committing fraud of some kind and reported his findings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. His view was that Madoff was either running a massive Ponzi scheme or was front-running using his order flow.
The SEC was slow to act, according to the WSJ. Markopolos made numerous filings to the agency in 2000, 2001, and 2005. Some were ignored because the firm Markopolos was working for at the time was a competitor to Madoff’s, the WSJ reported.
But Markopolos stayed on the case, and in 2008 Madoff was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi Scheme. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009.
In 2010, Markopolos released a book he wrote about his investigation into Madoff’s firm called No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller. In the book he details some odd practices and beliefs. For instance, he used to keep an old army gas mask nearby in case the SEC came to his home with teargas.
He was also worried about his family’s safety enough to carry a loaded gun and regularly check for bombs under his car, the WSJ reported, because he believed that Madoff’s clients might’ve included mobsters and drug cartels.
The journal described him, and most whistleblowers, as “a little bit nuts.” He himself said, “I’m a little bit eccentric, of course,” in a 2010 interview with The Guardian. He has repeatedly denied that a financial bounty motivated him to pursue the Madoff case over the years, the WSJ reported.
Markopolos and General Electric
On Thursday, Markopolos posted a report online that alleges that General Electric has made inaccurate and fraudulent financial filings with regulators in order to mask its struggling business.
Markopolos alleges that the accounting problems are roughly $38 billion – or 40% of the company’s market value. He also called the accounting practices “Enron-esque,” referring to the 2001 scandal that drove the Houston-based energy company to bankruptcy.
Shares of General Electric tanked as much as 14% on the news of the report, which said that the $38 billion is “merely the tip of the iceberg.” The report focused on GE’s long-term-care insurance business, which they said GE was using false regulatory statements to hide huge losses from. Markopolos also alleged that Baker Hughes, the company’s oil-and-gas unit, has practiced unethical accounting.
GE called the claims meritless, and CEO Larry Culp has also spoken out about the report, calling it market manipulation. Questions have been raised after news broke that Markopolos could make millions from the allegation. Markopolos is working with an undisclosed hedge fund that is betting GE’s shares will drop, the WSJ reported. Markopolos has an agreement to receive a portion of the trading profits.
He could also receive a cash reward through a government whistleblower program run by the SEC.