Enron whistleblower shares laments with Madoff whistleblower

Sherron Watkins became a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2002 (with Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom and Coleen Rowley of the FBI) after blowing the whistle on Enron’s house of cards. Now she has published a review of No One Would Listen, the new book by Harry Markopolos. Markopolos tried repeatedly, over nine years, to get the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate Madoff’s fund. Markopolos figured out that it was a fraudulent Ponzi scheme, and told the SEC, but could not get them to lift a finger.

Watkins can relate. In her review published in Financial Times, Watkins says, "Both Markopolos and I were by turns dogged, shocked, frustrated and treated like pariahs." "No one would listen to me either," Watkins adds. "Unfortunately, whistleblowers who expose the emperor as having no clothes are usually ignored. The apparent success of the emperor – Madoff or Enron – and the power and popularity they enjoy can make them immune to dissenters."

Watkins’ review also makes a point about the importance for whistleblowers to maintain their credibility and avoid exaggeration. Readers can see a sample of Markopolos’ personality, and then have more insight into Watkins’ comments, by watching Markopolos’ interview on John Stewart’s The Daily Show last Monday.

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