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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Justice Department Announces Additional Distribution of more than $488 Million to Victims of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

The Department of Justice announced today that the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its sixth distribution of approximately $488 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 almost $3.2 billion to nearly 37,000 victims worldwide. 

In this distribution, payments will be sent to over 30,000 victims across the globe, bringing their total recovery to 80.05 percent.  This distribution represents the sixth 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.

“With the $488 million distributed today, the department has now returned almost $3.2 billion to Madoff’s victims, allowing them to recover more than 80 percent of what they lost,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “This exceptional work – and there is more to come – has been made possible by the department’s steadfast commitment to the pursuit of the proceeds of fraud through civil forfeiture.”  

“This office continues its efforts to seek justice for victims of history’s largest Ponzi scheme,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York.  “Today’s additional payments of more than $488 million by this office and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section represent the sixth in a series of distributions that will leave victims with compensation for more than 80 percent of their losses.  That is an extraordinary level of recovery for a Ponzi scheme – but our work is not yet finished, and the office’s tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s heinous crimes continues.”

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 serve 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 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.  The Department of Justice also acknowledges the sacrifice of numerous individuals during this period of quarantine due to COVID-19 to ensure that this distribution occurred and remained on schedule.  

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 info@madoffvictimfund.com.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Asset Forfeiture
Press Release Number: 
20-1338
Updated December 10, 2020