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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 9, 2017

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Initial Distribution Of More Than $770 Million To Victims Of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Payments Are the Single Largest Distribution of Forfeited Funds in the History of the Department of Justice’s Victim Compensation Program

Rod J. Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that the Madoff Victim Fund established by the Department of Justice began its initial distribution of $772.5 million in funds forfeited to the United States Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) fraud scheme.  These funds will be sent to more than 24,000 victims worldwide, the first in a series of payments from the Madoff Victim Fund that will return to victims more than $4 billion in assets recovered as compensation for losses suffered by the collapse of BLMIS, following the largest fraud in history.  Another $5 billion in assets recovered by the U.S. Attorney’s Office are being separately paid to Madoff victims through the BLMIS Customer Fund administered by the Securities Investor Protection Act Trustee.

 

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said:  “Thanks to civil asset forfeiture, the Department of Justice is announcing today the record-setting distribution of restitution to victims of Bernard Madoff’s notorious investment fraud scheme.  We have recovered billions of dollars from third parties – not Mr. Madoff – and are now returning that money to tens of thousands of victims.  This is the largest restoration of forfeited property in history.”

 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Bernie Madoff committed one of history’s largest and most devastating frauds.  This Office not only prosecuted Madoff himself and others who helped perpetrate his fraud, but has remained committed to recovering money for his victims.  To date, this Office has recovered more than $9 billion for the innocent victims of Madoff’s fraud, and today’s distribution of $770 million, the single largest distribution of forfeited funds in the Department’s history, is part of our ongoing commitment to not only prosecute criminals but also find relief for victims.” 

 

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “No amount of money in the world could ever reverse the catastrophic effects Madoff’s historic Ponzi scheme had on individuals and businesses alike. But now, nearly a decade after this crime was exposed, it is our hope that victims will finally be able to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.”

 

Since the early 1970s, BERNARD L. MADOFF (“MADOFF”) used his position as Chairman of BLMIS, the investment advisory business he founded, to steal billions from his clients.  On March 12, 2009, MADOFF pled 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, United States District Judge Denny Chin sentenced MADOFF to 150 years in prison for running the largest fraudulent scheme in history.  Judge Chin ordered MADOFF to forfeit $170,799,000,000 as part of MADOFF’s sentence. 

 

The Madoff Victim Fund is funded through recoveries by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in various criminal and civil forfeiture actions, and is overseen by Richard Breeden, the former Chairman of the United States 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.   

 

Of the approximately $4.05 billion that will be made available to victims through the Madoff Victim Fund, approximately $2.2 billion was collected as part of the 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. for MADOFF-related Bank Secrecy Act violations.  Additional funds were collected through criminal and civil forfeiture actions against MADOFF and his co-conspirators, and certain MADOFF investors.

 

Mr. Kim praised the work of the FBI and the Madoff Victim Fund, and thanked the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division for their assistance.    

 

For more information about the Madoff Victim Fund, compensation to victims of BLMIS, eligibility criteria, and payment information, please visit www.madoffvictimfund.com.

 

The case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Cohen, Louis A. Pellegrino, and Niketh Velamoor are in charge of the case.   

Topic(s): 
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
17-363
Updated November 9, 2017