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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Distribution Of More Than $695 Million To Victims Of Madoff Ponzi Scheme

Payments Are the Third 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 the distribution of $695.4 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 27,000 victims worldwide, the third in a series of payments from the Madoff Victim Fund to victims of the BLMIS fraud that will ultimately total more than $4 billion.  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 history’s largest Ponzi scheme.  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.”

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said:  “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.  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.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “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.  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.”

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.  The two prior distributions from the Madoff Victim Fund have already returned nearly $1.3 billion to Madoff victims, and this third distribution will increase that total to almost $2 billion.

Of the approximately $4.05 billion that will ultimately 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.          

Topic(s): 
Asset Forfeiture
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-418
Updated November 29, 2018