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Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri © US Department of Justice

The US Justice Department has announced that the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its ninth distribution of over $158.9 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme.

In this distribution, payments will be sent to 24,875 victims across the globe, bringing their total recoveries to 91% of their fraud losses. Through its nine distributions, MVF has paid over $4.22 billion to 40,843 victims as compensation for losses they suffered from the collapse of BLMIS.

“The department’s Madoff Victim Fund has exceeded expectations in the level of recovery provided to victims of the fraud committed by Bernard Madoff, which devastated thousands of lives,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “To date, the Madoff Victim Fund has assisted more than 40,800 individual victims in recovering over 90% of victim losses. The department continues to prioritize the use of civil asset forfeiture to ensure compensation is available for victims of fraud.”

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Damian Williams, Attorney for the Southern District of New York, USA © Law.columbia.edu

“In 2009, when the Southern District of New York charged Bernie Madoff for his $64 billion securities fraud ‘Ponzi’ scheme, it was one of the most prolific financial crimes in American history. Among Madoff’s many victims were not only wealthy and institutional investors, but charities and pension funds alike — some of which invested money with Madoff on behalf of individuals working paycheck-to-paycheck who were relying on their pension accounts for their retirements,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “The financial toll on those who entrusted their money with Madoff was devasting, and this office’s unprecedented efforts to return money to Madoff’s victims has now resulted in clawbacks of 91% of fraud losses to their rightful owners. I commend the career prosecutors of this office for today’s distribution of over $158 million and for their relentless pursuit of justice for victims of Wall Street fraudsters, like Bernie Madoff.”

Bernard Madoff © U.S. Department of Justice

According to court documents and information presented in related proceedings, for decades, Bernard L. Madoff used his position as chairman of BLMIS, the investment advisory business he founded in 1960, to steal billions of dollars from his clients. On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded 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, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the largest fraudulent scheme in history. Of the over $4 billion that has been made available to victims, approximately $2.2 billion was collected as part of the historic 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. and civilly forfeited in a parallel action. The remaining funds were collected through a civil forfeiture action against investor Carl Shapiro and his family, and from civil and criminal forfeiture actions against Madoff, Peter B. Madoff, and their co-conspirators.

Special Master Richard Breeden with MVF checks prepared for distribution © MVF

The MVF’s payouts would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and FBI in the prosecution of Madoff’s crimes and the recovery of assets supporting the forfeiture in the case.

The MVF is overseen by Richard Breeden, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, who serves as Special Master appointed by the Justice Department to assist in connection with the victim remission proceedings. Breeden and his team at MVF provided essential assistance to evaluate over 68,000 remission petitions involving billions in cash flows, and to compute each victim’s fraud losses to enable payments to be made.

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