Crime & Punishment : The Bernie Madoff Scam

June 24, 2009

By: John Newcomer

Bernie MadoffThe man accused of running the biggest financial scam in US history will soon find out his punishment.  Bernie Madoff is set to be sentenced on June 29th in the U.S. District Court of New York.  Earlier this year, Madoff pled guilty to fraud, money laundering, perjury, and filing false statements with the Security and Exchange Commission, in what prosecutors say was a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.  The maximum sentence for the 71 year old is 150 years.

His Ponzi scheme stole money from more than 1,341 victims.  The losses tallied so far are in excess of $13 billion, and the prosecutors are not done counting.

A Ponzi scheme uses new investor money to pay more mature investors, thus creating a sense that everything is legitimate.  Madoff confessed that he had been running his Ponzi scheme for at least 13 years, and during that time never invested any of his client’s money.

Crime does pay.

Over the last 13 years Bernie Madoff accumulated the following assets (some assets such as the Manhattan Apartment are only in his wife’s name) a Manhattan condominium valued at $7 million, homes in Montauk, New York; Palm Beach, Florida; and Cap d’Anitbes, France.  A yacht named “Bull”, 4 automobiles, $17 million in cash, and $45 million in securities.  The government is seeking forfeiture of these assets.

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On June 17, Madoff met for three hours with top officials from the SEC.  There is some speculation that Madoff was trying to exchange information for either a lighter sentence or avoid forfeiture of assets held by his wife.  On June 29th we will see how his negotiating skills held up.