Largest Payment of Forfeited Funds in the History of the Department of Justice’s Victim Compensation Program

The Department of Justice announced this week that on July 31, the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its fourth distribution of $469.6 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. Government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme, bringing the total distributed to $2.4 billion to nearly 32,000 victims worldwide.  In this distribution, payments will be sent to over 25,000 victims across the globe, bringing their total recovery to 66.85 percent.  This distribution represents the fourth in a series of payments that will eventually return over $4 billion to victims as compensation for losses they suffered from the collapse of the BLMIS.  The MVF has received over 65,000 petitions from victims in 136 countries.

“The upheaval and devastation wrought by Bernie Madoff’s massive fraud continue to reverberate across the United States and the globe,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “This fourth distribution of payments shows that the Department remains steadfast in its pursuit of proceeds of that fraud through civil forfeiture. Madoff’s victims, many of whom once believed they had lost everything, have now seen close to a 67 percent recovery of their loss amounts.”

“Bernie Madoff committed the largest Ponzi scheme in history,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York.  “Today’s additional payment of more than $469 million by this Office represents the fourth in an on-going series of distributions that will leave victims’ with compensation for more than 65 percent of their losses.  This extraordinary level of recovery represents this Office’s tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s heinous crimes.”

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 serve 150 years in prison for running the largest fraudulent scheme in history.  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.

The MVF’s payouts would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and the FBI in the prosecution of these crimes and the recovery of assets supporting the forfeiture in this case.  The MVF is overseen by Richard Breeden, former Chairman of the U.S. 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.

More information about MVF and its compensation to victims of BLMIS is available on the MVF website at www.madoffvictimfund.com, such as eligibility criteria, process updates, and frequently asked questions

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