The man who knew too much ... about Madoff

This is the Madoffgate scoop that everyone wanted and everyone knew was coming, but there's only one winner: the Wall Street Journal's Gregory Zuckerman.

Check out his exclusive interview with Harry Markopolos — and Harry's documents — in the WSJ tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

Everyone's just wild about Harry. He uncovered Bernie Madoff's scam nine years ago, and no one listened to him.

Harry's name had surfaced immediately after Bernie's self-described Ponzi scheme blew up, but Zuckerman lays out the details in "Chasing Bernard Madoff," and the story will make any journalist who loves digging through documents just absolutely so goddamn jealous that he or she can't stand it.

As Zuckerman writes:

In recent days, Mr. Markopolos has shared with the Wall Street Journal emails, letters and other documents he showed to the SEC, over the better part of a decade, as part of his relentless campaign to persuade regulators that Mr. Madoff's returns were too good to be true.

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As a story, it's not exactly exciting but it's eminently fascinating.

Readers will want to know more about Harry, but Zuckerman was probably lucky to get the damn story done and in print before anyone beat him to it. (I haven't seen anyone beat him to it — at least with a close reading of Harry's documents.)

From a reporter's perspective, well, it was bound to happen that Markopolos was going to dump his documents on some lucky reporter, and I'm glad that if it wasn't me then at least it was someone at a paper that knows what it's doing when it comes to covering the bidness world — although I can think of a Voice reporter whose initials are Tom Robbins who could go to town on these documents and make sense of them to readers.

However, Gregory Zuckerman (may I call you "Greg"?) does a fine job of sticking to the facts and even noting where Markopolos went wrong with details of his allegations against Madoff.

Zuckerman and his editors let slip only a few clunky phrases — "explosive concerns" stands out — but that's the nittiest of picking.

It's clear enough from his story that someone somewhere — besides Harry Markopolos —should have been picking on Madoff long before the goniff's scheme collapsed.

UPDATE: Late Wednesday evening, the Journal revised and expanded Zuckerman's story, adding Kara Scannell's name to the byline and links to Markopolos's documents (including this one), plus topping the piece with juicy news that Madoff had misled the SEC in 2006.

Piece is even better now.

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