Madoff Coached Witness on Duping SEC

Bernard Madoff, Securities and Exchange Commission seal, hand holding cell phone, audio waves CBS/AP/IStockphoto
"You don't have to be too brilliant" to fool the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Those are the words of scam artist Bernard Madoff, according to a of a 2005 taped phone conversation. The call was between Madoff and a witness who was about to testify before the SEC and was contained in the recording made public by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin

Listen to the Madoff Call (1:09)

On Tuesday the Massachusetts Securities Division reached a settlement with the Fairfield Greenwich Group for $8 million in connection with the Madoff Ponzi scheme, one of the worst scandals in Wall Street history. Also included was a $500,000 fine for the cost of the probe. State regulators sued Fairfield for misleading investors and acting as a feeder fund to Madoff's scam. With the settlement, Massachusetts dropped fraud charges against the company.

Read the transcript of Bernard Madoff
coaching an SEC witness

The call provides insight into how Madoff viewed the SEC, Wall Street's top cop.

In the conversation, Madoff coaches a witness who was about to be interviewed about his investment firm. "Obviously, first of all, this call never took place," Madoff said.

Madoff also suggested the witness to take a casual approach in dealing with the SEC. He said that, if asked, Fairfield executives should minimize the ties between the companies and not volunteer answers.

Madoff cautioned his Fairfield associates not to know too much about how he was handling investments.

"You don't want to have that information because ... the commission, when they ask questions, they try and draw out information," Madoff said. "The less that you know how we execute ... the better you are."

In closing Madoff added, "They ask you a zillion different questions, and we look at them sometimes and we laugh, and we say, 'Are you guys writing a book?' "

Thursday, in a written statement to CBS News, Fairfield Greenwich responded to the Madoff recording released by Galvin's office saying, Fairfield Greenwich asked the SEC for permission to speak to Madoff prior to an SEC interview.

"Any implication that the Madoff call affected Fairfield's responses to the SEC is demonstrably false."

"In fact, last week's report by the Inspector General of the SEC, 'Investigation of Failure of the SEC to Uncover Bernard Madoff's Ponzi Scheme,' specifically cites Fairfield Greenwich's truthful and accurate responses to SEC inquiries."

Madoff was sentenced in June to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that went on for decades and financially devastated thousands of investors.