The Securities and Exchange Commission's New York watchdog, under fire for failing to uncover Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme - despite a dead-on tip by a whistleblower - yesterday tearfully defended herself, arguing that she and the agency did the best job possible.
"Why are you taking a mid-level staff person and making me responsible for the failure of the American economy?" an upset Meaghan Cheung, with eyes tearing up, told The Post.
"I worked very hard for 10 years to make a career, and a reputation, and that has been destroyed in a month," said Cheung, who was the SEC's branch chief of the New York enforcement division during that unit's earlier probe of Madoff's brokerage business.
The 37-year-old has been singled out by whistleblower Harry Markopolos as the woman who failed to detect the scam despite his lengthy warnings. It was Cheung who signed off on a 2006 SEC investigation that effectively gave Madoff the all clear.
She said, "I was shocked" to learn last month that Madoff had been charged with - and confessed to - operating a massive Ponzi scheme at his Manhattan firm that swindled thousands of investors.
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