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SEC says whistle-blowers welcome

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it would welcome whistle-blowers and create a new office to review tips on fraud and other wrongdoing.

The regulator's Enforcement Division Director Robert Khuzami said the SEC would permit those who came forward to avoid prosecution temporarily or permanently if informants "fully and truthfully" provided the SEC with useful information, USA Today reported Thursday.

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After failing on several occasions to pick up on tips that New York trader Bernard Madoff was running a fraudulent business, Khuzami said it would be a new era for those committing fraud. The red carpet for whistle-blowers meant "your secret conversations, your hushed plans, your schemes and your deceptions" would potentially fall into SEC hands, he said.

Madoff was arrested in Dec. 1998 and is serving a 150-year sentence for running a multi-billion Ponzi scheme.

SEC Inspector General David Kotz's report on the Madoff affair blasted the SEC for failing to investigate Madoff's brokerage business earlier.

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