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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Additional Distribution Of More Than $469 Million To Victims Of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Payments Are the Fourth 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, Attorney General Bill Barr, 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 fourth distribution to victims funds forfeited to the United States Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) fraud scheme.  The distribution will include $469.6 million in additional funds, bringing the total distributed to date to approximately $2.4 billion.  The funds will be sent to more than 25,000 victims worldwide, the fourth of four payments to victims that will bring their total recovery from all source of compensation to 66.85% 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:  “Bernie Madoff committed the largest Ponzi scheme in history.  Today’s additional payment of more than $469 million by this Office and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section represents the fourth in an on-going series of distributions that will leave victims with compensation for more than 65 percent of their losses.  This extraordinary level of recovery represents this Office’s tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s heinous crimes.”

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said:  “The upheaval and devastation wrought by Bernie Madoff’s massive fraud continue to reverberate across the United States and the globe.  This fourth distribution of payments shows that the Department remains steadfast in its pursuit of proceeds of that fraud through civil forfeiture.  Madoff’s victims, many of whom once believed they had lost everything, have now seen close to a 67 percent recovery of their loss amounts.”

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 www.madoffvictimfund.com.

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.

 

Press Release Number: 
19-242
Updated July 31, 2019