DOJ begins distribution to help Bernie Madoff victims

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On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its initial distribution of $772.5 million to be sent to 24,631 victims around the world.

The funds were forfeited to the U.S. government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme. The initial distribution is the first in a series of payments of more than $4 billion, payable to victims after they suffered losses upon the collapse of the BLMIS.

According to the DOJ:

For decades, Bernard L. Madoff used his position as Chairman of BLMIS, the investment advisory business he founded in 1960, to steal billions 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, U.S. 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 billion as part of Madoff’s sentence.

Of the approximately $4.05 billion that will be 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 Bernard L. Madoff, Peter B. Madoff and their co-conspirators.

According to the DOJ, the MVF has received over 65,000 petitions from victims in 136 countries.

“Thanks to civil asset forfeiture, the Department of Justice is announcing today the record-setting distribution of restitution to victims of Bernard Madoff’s notorious investment fraud scheme,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “We have recovered billions of dollars from third parties – not Mr. Madoff – and are now returning that money to tens of thousands of victims. This is the largest restoration of forfeited property in history.”

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