7. Madoff Ponzi Scheme (Securities and Exchange Commission IG, 2009)
If anyone knows how difficult it is to get the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to listen to a whistleblower, it’s Harry Markopolos. He repeatedly tipped off the SEC about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme—the largest financial fraud in U.S. history—and was ignored. The SEC’s negligence might have gone unnoticed, if not for this scathing IG report showing that the agency acted incompetently in busting Madoff’s scheme. The IG report inspired a series of sweeping reforms, including the creation of the SEC's new whistleblower program under the Dodd-Frank Act. Thanks to the IG's exhaustive investigation into the Madoff debacle, the SEC will likely think twice before brushing off another whistleblower.
Image of Bernie Madoff by Flickr user mariopiperni