Extra! Extra! Madoff "Auditor" Still at Large!

Feb 16, 2015

The other night we were treated to the “Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special,” and near the end we longtime fans of the show received the important news that “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” (If you are too young to have heard the news directly from Chevy Chase on SNL’s “Weekend Update" way back in 1975, just Google the sentence.)

In a December news item eerily reminiscent of that shtick, we learned that the sentencing of David Friehling, Bernie Madoff’s “auditor,” was delayed yet again, until July 2015. (Click here to read the only item I could find on the internet with this breaking news.)  Way back in 2009, Friehling pleaded guilty to all sorts of bad things related to the Madoff fraud, but his sentencing keeps getting delayed while he cooperates with federal prosecutors. It beats me what they’re still investigating, but that’s everyone’s story and they’re all sticking to it.

I dredge this story up from time to time because the whole sorry Madoff affair is a black mark on the auditing profession. (Read my original post and you will see why I put “auditor” in quotes above.) If the auditing profession had had the most rudimentary controls in place – the kind they demand from their audit clients or the CFO gets fired – the entire fraud would never have gotten off the ground, or at least would have been discovered in its first year or two.

I will continue to bring this story to light until it is clear to me that the auditing profession has cleaned its own house.

“Painting with Numbers” is my effort to get people to focus on making numbers understandable.  I welcome your feedback and your favorite examples.  Follow me on twitter at @RandallBolten.

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