The Journal reports out the “serial regulatory failures” that allowed Bernard Madoff to perpetuate the bigges Ponzi scheme in history. And in a particularly nice catch, the paper finds Obama’s nominee for SEC chairwoman, Mary Schapiro, has some explaining to do:

The failure to stop Mr. Madoff also is an embarrassment for Mary Schapiro, the Finra chief who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama as the next SEC chairman. Finra was involved in several investigations of Mr. Madoff’s firm, concluding in 2007 that it violated technical rules and failed to report certain transactions in a timely way.

Ms. Schapiro declined to comment…

Finra’s full-scale examination in 2007 indicated that parts of Mr. Madoff’s firm had no customers. It didn’t provide an explanation of this finding. “At this point in time we are uncertain of the basis for Finra’s conclusion in this regard,” SEC staff wrote last month, after Mr. Madoff was arrested.

“We don’t have access to that document, nor have we received any feedback from the SEC on our examinations of the Madoff broker-dealer,” said Nancy Condon, a spokeswoman for Finra.

It will be interesting to see what happens when reporters and investigators pull on that thread some more.

Meanwhile, the WSJ details a litany of missed opportunities by the SEC, which ran across Madoff as far back as 1992—one of at least eight times regulators investigated him over the years.

It’s a good effort by the paper, and the story is well-timed for the opening of congressional hearings on the SEC today. Those should be fun.

In other news, Bloomberg has the Madoff headline of the day:

Madoff Investor Awaits Verdict on Whether ‘Imbecile’ or ‘Dupe’
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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.