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Press Release

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Additional Distribution Of More Than $378 Million To Victims Of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Payments Are the Fifth Distribution in a Series of Payments That Together Will Constitute the Largest Payment of Forfeited Funds in the History of the Department of Justice’s Victim Compensation Program

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, 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 fifth distribution to victims of funds forfeited to the United States Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) fraud scheme.  The distribution will include $378.5 million in additional funds, bringing the total distributed to date to approximately $2.7 billion.  The funds will be sent to more than 26,000 victims worldwide, the fifth payment to victims that will bring their total recovery from all sources of compensation to 73.65 % of their losses.  The Madoff Victim Fund will ultimately return to victims more than $4 billion in assets that have been 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.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “This Office continues its efforts to seek justice for victims of history’s largest Ponzi scheme.  Today’s additional payment of more than $378 million by this Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section represents the fifth in an on-going series of distributions that will leave victims with compensation for more than 73 percent of their losses.  But our work is not yet finished, and this extraordinary level of recovery represents this Office’s ongoing and tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s predatory criminal scheme.”

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said:  “It is entirely fitting during this Crime Victims’ Rights Week that the department is able to make the latest distribution from the Madoff Victims Fund.  With the $378 million distributed today, the department has now returned $2.7 billion to Madoff’s victims, allowing them to recover almost 74 percent of their losses.  All of this has been made possible by the department’s steadfast commitment to the pursuit of the proceeds of fraud through civil forfeiture.”  

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. Berman 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

The case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Louis A. Pellegrino is in charge of the case.  The remission of these forfeited funds is being handled by the Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.


Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated April 20, 2020

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 20-103