Saturday, July 11, 2009

Madoff sentenced ($50 billion fraud. )


Bernard Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq stockmarket, a wall street legend, faces a sentence of 150 years in prision.

After all, the investors and finance advisors can and will be sentenced if they dare to commit fraud that's the message
.

One of the most striking examples of an “extraordinarily fraud ”, one worthy of a staggering sentence for Madoff: 150 years behind bars.

The sentence went far beyond the 12 years suggested by Madoff’s lawyers and virtually guaranteed that, at age 71, the financier-turned-felon would die with a multibillion-dollar fraud that’s been called the largest in history.

“Here, the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead ... one that takes a staggering human toll,” the judge said.

The sentence capped a 90-minute hearing in an ornate courtroom in Manhattan that turned into a tense showdown between a group of angry, tearful victims and Madoff, who sat silently at a defense table before apologizing with a mechanical calm.

“I will turn and face you,” he said. “I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t help you.”

More drama followed the sentencing when Madoff’s wife Ruth, often a target of victims’ scorn since her husband’s arrest, broke her silence by issuing a statement through her lawyer. She said she, too, had been misled.

“I am embarrassed and ashamed,” she said. “Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused.”

The sentencing concluded a stunning fall from grace for Madoff. Clients of the former Nasdaq chairman — from Florida retirees to celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax — for decades flocked to him seeking investment returns that defied market fluctuations.



But late last year, Madoff made a dramatic confession: Authorities say he pulled his sons aside and told them of a massive Ponzi scheme.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.” He insisted that he acted alone, describing a separate wholesale stock-trading firm run by his sons and brother as honest and legitimate.

Aside from an accountant accused of cooking Madoff’s books, no one else has been criminally charged. But the family, including his wife, and brokerage firms who recruited investors have come under intense scrutiny by the FBI, regulators and a court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff’s assets.

The trustee and prosecutors have sought to go after assets to compensate thousands of victims who have filed claims against Madoff. How much is available to pay them remains unknown, though it’s expected to be only a fraction of the astronomical losses associated with the fraud.

The $171 billion forfeiture figure used by prosecutors merely mirrors the amount they estimate that, over decades, flowed into and out of the principal account to perpetrate the Ponzi scheme. The statements sent to investors showing their accounts were worth as much as $65 billion were fiction.

The investigation has found that in reality, Madoff never made any investments, instead using the money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients — and to finance a lavish lifestyle for his family. The actual loss so far has been put at $13.2 billion. But the judge said that was a conservative estimate and noted that even Madoff told his sons in December it was a $50 billion fraud.

He gave no noticeable reaction when the sentence was announced. He also showed no emotion though he looked down earlier in the hearing as he listened to nine victims spend nearly an hour labeling him a “monster,” “a true beast” and an “evil low-life.”

“Life has been a living hell. It feels like the nightmare we can’t wake from,” said Carla Hirshhorn.

“He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values,” said Tom Fitzmaurice. “He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife Ruth could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”

When asked by the judge whether he had anything to say, Madoff slowly stood, leaned forward on the defense table and spoke in a monotone for about 10 minutes. At various times, he referred to his historic fraud as a “problem,” “an error of judgment” and “a tragic mistake.”

The jailed Madoff had already taken a severe financial hit: Last week, a judge issued a preliminary $171 billion forfeiture order stripping Madoff of all his personal property, including real estate, investments, and $80 million in assets his wife Ruth had claimed were hers. The order left her with $2.5 million.

The terms require the Madoffs to sell a $7 million Manhattan apartment where Ruth Madoff still lives. An $11 million estate in Palm Beach, Fla., a $4 million home in Montauk and a $2.2 million boat will be put on the market as well.

Anthony Sabino, a defense lawyer specializing in white collar criminal defense, said the decision against appealing the sentence was no surprise.

"This is his acknowledgment that he really has no chance," he said.

Sabino said that by not appealing, Madoff is showing he "is now going to keep his mouth shut, take his punishment, and he's willing to die in prison. To some extent, he acknowledges that this is the price he has to pay in order to protect others. Who are the others? We don't know."

The size of Madoff's fraud, Sabino said, has brought fresh meaning to "Ponzi scheme," named after Charles Ponzi, who was convicted of mail fraud and bilking thousands of people out of $10 million in 1919-20.

"Charles Ponzi is now a footnote. They're now Madoff schemes,". After all this road of becoming Millionaire is not easy if you... (like me), want to do it the right way. See more and comment!


Finally 150 years...





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