Ponzi scheme : US Justice Department pays $488M to victims of Bernie Madoff’s scam

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Victims of renowned swindler Bernie Madoff are to receive their share of another $488 million in recovered funds.

The Department of Justice said the cash will go to almost 37,000 victims around the world according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

It is the sixth Madoff Victim Fund payout, bringing the total amount distributed to almost $3.6 billion from a $4.05 billion fund set up in 2013.

Thousands of investors lost billions of dollars through his multi-decade fraud.

Attorney Irving Picard who has been working diligently to recover the monies will have sent $14.1 billion to Madoff customers who he estimated lost around $17.5 billion.

It means the scammer’s victims will have recouped just over 80% of their total losses.

The feds expect to pay victims a total of $4 billion through the Madoff Victim Fund. Roughly $2.2 billion was taken from the estate of deceased Madoff investor Jeffry Picower, who was the largest beneficiary of the Ponzi scheme.

The Justice Department collected an additional $1.7 billion from JPMorgan Chase Bank for failing to report suspicious Madoff-related transactions, among other violations

The collapse of the Ponzi scheme left many investors severely drained financially because they were told their investments had grown much larger than what they started with.

‘This is an extraordinary level of recovery for a Ponzi scheme — but our work is not yet finished, and the office’s tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s heinous crimes continues,’ said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement.

 It was March 2009 when Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felonies. He admitted to turning his wealth management business into an enormous $65 billion fraud that ripped off his friends and family.

Madoff, now 82, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

His bid to be released early on grounds that he is dying was rejected this year.

His lawyers say he has advanced kidney disease and only 18 months to live but a federal judge denied his motion for compassionate release.

Judge Denny Chin ruled that when he set the prison sentence in 2009, he intended Madoff to die in jail and that nothing had happened in the last eleven years to change his mind.