If the Securities and Exchange Commission had systematically documented numerous complaints about Bernard Madoff made over 10 years by financial analyst Harry Markopolos, who argued that Madoff's returns were mathematically impossible; known that two of SEC offices were independently investigating Madoff, unbeknownst to one another; and heeded the advice of one of its own examiners five years before the $18 billion scandal came to light-it might have seen the bigger picture and stopped Madoff in his tracks.

One of the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations attorneys in 2004 found numerous inconsistencies at Madoff's company and recommended further questioning. However, because of the ongoing mutual fund market-timing probe, the SEC opted to focus on that instead.

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