Inexperienced officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission during a 16-year period accepted the word of swindler Bernard Madoff and did nothing to verify whether he was making billions of dollars of trades for clients, the SEC's internal watchdog said in a report. "The SEC never properly examined or investigated Madoff's trading and never took the necessary, but basic, steps to determine if Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme," said H. David Kotz, the agency's inspector general.

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