Department of Justice Begins Third Distribution of Funds Recovered Through Asset Forfeiture to Compensate Victims of Bernard Madoff Fraud Scheme
The Department of Justice today announced that on Nov. 29, the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its third distribution of $695.4 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme, bringing the total distributed to nearly $2 billion. These funds will be sent to over 27,000 victims across the globe, bringing their total recovery to 56.65 percent. This distribution represents the third in a series of payments that will eventually return over $4 billion to victims as compensation for losses they suffered from the collapse of the BLMIS. The MVF has received over 65,000 petitions from victims in 136 countries.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York made the announcement.
“Bernie Madoff’s scheme devastated retirement and pension funds, charitable organizations, and thousands of individual investors spread across 49 States, the District of Columbia, and 121 other countries,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “The payments announced today could not have happened without the prosecutors’ relentless pursuit of proceeds of Madoff’s fraud through civil forfeiture—and, as a result of their efforts and those of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, victims who would not have seen a dime in other compensation programs will now recover more than half of their losses.”
“Bernie Madoff committed history’s largest Ponzi scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “This Office prosecuted Madoff and others who helped perpetrate his fraud, and we assisted in recovering billions of dollars in proceeds from the fraud. Today’s payment of more than $690 million is this Office’s third installment in a series of distributions that represent our ongoing commitment to find relief for victims of Madoff’s heinous crimes.”
“While today’s distribution of funds is indeed significant in scope, we understand no amount of money could ever restore the damage done by Madoff as a result of his selfish behavior and unforgivable financial crimes,” said FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney, Jr. “To all of his many victims and their families, we realize this gesture may not provide the consolation necessary to remove the pain and suffering you have been brought to bear, but we are hopeful it provides some sense of relief, and we remain committed to achieve justice for all victims of inexcusable financial crimes.”
For decades, Bernard L. Madoff used his position as Chairman of BLMIS, the investment advisory business he founded in 1960, to steal billions from his clients. On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies, admitting that he had turned his wealth management business into the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, benefitting himself, his family and select members of his inner circle. On June 29, 2009, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison for running the largest fraudulent scheme in history. Of the approximately $4.05 billion that will be made available to victims, approximately $2.2 billion was collected as part of the historic civil forfeiture recovery from the estate of deceased Madoff investor Jeffry Picower. An additional $1.7 billion was collected as part of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. and civilly forfeited in a parallel action. The remaining funds were collected through a civil forfeiture action against investor Carl Shapiro and his family, and from civil and criminal forfeiture actions against Bernard L. Madoff, Peter B. Madoff and their co-conspirators.
The MVF’s payouts would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and the FBI in the prosecution of these crimes and the recovery of assets supporting the forfeiture in this case. The MVF is overseen by Richard Breeden, former Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in his capacity as Special Master appointed by the Department of Justice to assist in connection with the victim remission proceedings.
More information about MVF and its compensation to victims of BLMIS is available on the MVF website at www.madoffvictimfund.com, such as eligibility criteria, process updates, and frequently asked questions. Further questions may be directed to the MVF at 866-624-3670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.