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But also note: Part of why Bernie Madoff lasted so long was that he arrived for an SEC investigation without a lawyer. Everyone in the room thought he had nothing to hide, so they didn't pursue him.

Whether we want to admit it or not: It's ingrained that you are inviting an investigator to hassle you further by invoking a right to counsel. (For the record: I think that sucks too.)




I'd rather not take cues from Bernie Madoff on legal matters.


You missed my point: One strategy that should be safe is telling the god's-honest truth. But even with the truth, you invite a whole lotta hassle by bringing a lawyer.

Conversely: Even if you're a dishonest crook, you get the feds off your back by omitting a lawyer.

This is not how it should be; It is how it is.


There are hundreds of thousands of people in prison right now who arrived for their interview with the authorities without a lawyer. I'm not sure your theory actually pans out.

(Madoff wasn't caught when the SEC first investigated because they thought he was front-running orders, not a giant Ponzi scheme. They were looking for the wrong thing.)


I have to disagree with what you said about the SEC. According to Markopolos' book, the SEC wouldn't have caught him even if he was front-running. It's not that they were looking for the wrong thing. They just didn't look.


This guy was the former chair of NASDAQ and had friends in high places. Your chances of getting the same red carpet treatment from the Feds are effectively zero. Hire a lawyer.


You point is : if you're a talented con artist who was able to con $50B out, then you would mislead/charm/fend off a SEC or any other investigator better than a lawyer. I'm completely agree with you here. For the rest of us - talk to your lawyer first.


Actually, use of the word "truth" is itself leading. What's illegal is not lying to the government, because the government is not magically capable of telling that you are lying. What's illegal is giving the government information that the government interprets such that the government determines it conflicts with what the government determines be the official-truth.


That the SEC investigators were completely incompetent helped him far more. See Harry Markopolos' book "No One Would Listen" for support of my "completely incompetent" claim: http://www.amazon.com/No-One-Would-Listen-Financial/dp/04709...


One can hardly consider Bernie Madoff a paragon of astute judgment. I'll admit this is argumentum ad hominem, but his tolerance for risk was insane. Also notable is that he declined counsel when he really needed it, which is different than doing the same thing when you are secondary or tertiary to the investigation.


> this is argumentum ad hominem, but his tolerance for risk was insane.

That's the crucial point.


The Mandoff saga reflected more on investigators abilities than on Mandoff's in my opinion. The SEC having botched 6 investigations of Mandoff so badly that even Mandoff couldn't understand it. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/business/31sec.html?pagewa...


That said, what you say can be held against you. What your lawyer says for you can't so much. Which is why even lawyers may want to have lawyers.


Sorry about the repeated misspelling of Madoff. It won't let me edit it now.


Who's "Mandoff"?


> The Mandoff saga reflected more on investigators abilities than on Mandoff's in my opinion.

That is exactly the point. Nobody shows up with a lawyer because they want transparency above and beyond the call of duty.

Investigators will take the need for a lawyer as having something to hide. Arriving without a lawyer says the opposite.

But apparently several posters above don't believe so.


I think regardless of what investigators think if you bring a lawyer, you have a much better chance of avoiding incriminating yourself (even if you don't believe you've done anything wrong!) if you bring one.

If you have done something wrong (again, whether you know it or not), you'll likely have a better outcome with a lawyer present from the start that without.

But if you actually haven't done anything wrong, the lawyer can still help you avoid accidentally telling a "lie" or getting yourself into a situation you don't know how to handle. Even if the investigators believe you're hiding something just because you lawyered up, if you genuinely did nothing wrong, there's not much they can do... aside from making up evidence and framing you, or believing unreliable witnesses telling lies about you... which could happen in any case.

The bottom line (as stated in the article) is that you are not qualified to know whether or not you have or have not truly done anything illegal. A lawyer will be much better able to help you make that determination and guide your interaction with the authorities for your benefit.


I actually don't think you understand the parent's point. The SEC was incompetent. They weren't capable of finding Madoff's fraud.


>Part of why Bernie Madoff lasted so long was that he arrived for an SEC investigation without a lawyer. Everyone in the room thought he had nothing to hide

Got a source for that?


Madoff ‘astonished’ SEC did not catch him, FT, Oct 2009

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/a039e91c-c5ac-11de-9b3b-00144...

It falls a bit short of backing up the claim "[e]veryone thought he had nothing to hide", but it's along those lines.


Thats bit like saying a lawyer didn't bring a lawyer to a police interview. He had expertise and experience that would of helped him avoid common pitfalls. Almost every normal person does not have the expertise to execute that kind of gambit properly.




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