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Madoff ‘fraud’ reaches Shell pension fund

Times Online

December 17, 2008

Shell, the Dutch oil giant, has emerged as the latest victim of the $50 billion (£32.23 million) fraud allegedly perpetrated by Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff, who is set to appear in court later today to meet the conditions of his bail.

Royal Dutch Shell revealed its Dutch pension fund had a $45 million exposure to the fraud, but said that even if it had to write off the entire amount, “the impact on the financial position and the funding status of the pension fund would not be material.”

The list of victim continues to grow as Mr Madoff prepares to appear in court today at 2pm EST (7pm GMT) to fulfil the outstanding conditions of his $10 million bail, in a hearing orginally planned for yesterday.

His lawyers indicated that he needed more time to find two additional signatories for his bail bond. His wife, Ruth, and his brother, Peter, have already signed.

The $10 million bail, granted last week, was secured by his Manhattan apartment, valued at about $7 million.

Last night, Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), admitted that repeated tip-offs to the regulator about Mr Madoff’s activities were never followed up.

Mr Madoff registered his business, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, with the regulator in 2006, but the SEC has said it never completed an examination of the firm.

Usually, it completes investigations into company’s within a year of their registration.

There is further humiliation for the SEC because Mr Madoff once served on one of their advisory committees. In 2000, he was invited to join a panel advising on stock market traqding rules.

It also emerged that the SEC has launched a probe into the relationship between one of its former officials and a niece of Mr Madoff, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Shana Madoff, a niece of Mr Madoff who works as a compliance lawyer at the family’s firm, married Eric Swanson, a former SEC attorney, last year.

The SEC is currently investigating whether the relationship had any impact on its oversight of Mr Madoff’s company.

One of Mr Swanson’s duties before he left the SEC in 2006 had been to supervise the regulator’s inspection programme tasked with trading oversight at stock exchanges and electronic trading platforms.

Last night, a spokesman for Mr Swanson said “the compliance team he helped supervise made an inquiry about Bernard Madoff’s securities operation”.

It also said that Mr Swanson and Ms Madoff started a relationship in 2006, and were married the following year.

Another spokesman said the relationship began “years after” the investigation, and said Mr Swanson would “cooperate fully” with the SEC, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Neither Mr Swanson nor Ms Madoff have been named by the SEC as targets of the probe, but the Journal reported that David Kotz, the SEC inspector general who is leading the investigation, said he intended to examine the relationship.

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