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Bernie Madoff, a Wall Street financier disgraced after he admitted to one of the biggest frauds in US financial history, has died in prison at age 82.
His death was announced by the Bureau of Prisons.
Mr Madoff had been serving a 150-year sentence after he pleaded guilty in 2009 to running a Ponzi scheme, which paid investors with money from new clients rather than actual profits.
It collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.
“Bernie, up until his death, lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes,” his lawyer Brandon Sample said in a statement.
“Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was – he was also a father and a husband. He was soft spoken and an intellectual. Bernie was by no means perfect. But no man is.”
Mr Madoff,the son of European immigrants who grew up in New York,set up his eponymous firm Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities in 1960.
The company became one of the largest market-makers – matching buyers and sellers of stocks – and Mr Madoff served as chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange.
The firm was investigated eight times by the US Securities and Exchange Commission because it made exceptional returns.
But it was the global recession which effectively prompted Mr Madoff’s demise as investors, hit by the downturn, tried to withdraw about $7bn from his funds and he could not find the money to cover it.
He confessed the problem to his sons, who went to the authorities.
The list of those scammed included actor Kevin Bacon, Hall of Fame baseball player Sandy Koufax and film director Steven Spielberg’s charitable foundation, Wunderkinder.
UK banks were also among those who lost money, with HSBC Holdings saying it had exposure of around $1bn. Other corporate victims were Royal Bank of Scotland and Man Group and Japan’s Nomura Holdings.
But it was not just the elite and large firms who were victims of the fraud.
‘We thought he was God’
School teachers, farmers, mechanics and many others also lost money.
“We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, whose foundation lost $15.2 million, said in 2009.
In court, Mr Madoff said that when he started the scheme in the 1990s, he hoped it would only be for a limited time.
“I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done,” he said in March 2009, when he pleaded guilty.
“I realised that my arrest and this day would inevitably come.”
The scam involved an estimated $65bn, a figure that included gains Mr Madoff’s clients believed they had made due to fake account statements.
Of the more than $17bn in cash losses, more than $14bn has been recovered.
Last year, Mr Madoff requested early release from prison citing health problems, including kidney disease. In an interview with The Washington Post he said he had “made a terrible mistake.”
“I’m terminally ill,” he said. “There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”
Judge Denny Chin denied Mr Madoff’s request, noting many victims were still suffering due to their financial losses.
“I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him,” he wrote.
At least two investors with Mr Madoff committed suicide after their losses. His son Mark also killed himself on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest. His other son, Andrew, died of cancer in 2014.
Mr Madoff is survived by his wife, Ruth Madoff, who maintained she was unaware of the scheme and was never charged. Prosecutors let her keep $2.5m from the the $825m fortune the couple once possessed.
JP Morgan Behind Madoff Ponzi Scheme? Pays $2 Billion to Avoid Investigation and Prosecution
Global Research, January 06, 2014
Bernie Madoff has said all along that JP Morgan knew about – and knowingly profited from – his Ponzi schemes.
So JP Morgan has agreed to pay the government $2 billion to avoid investigation and prosecution.
While this may sound like a lot of money, it is spare sofa change for a big bank like JP Morgan.
It’s not just the Madoff scheme.
Here are just some of the recent improprieties by big banks:
- Laundering money for terrorists (the HSBC employee who blew the whistle on the banks’ money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels says that the giant bank is still laundering money, saying: “The public needs to know that money is still being funneled through HSBC to directly buy guns and bullets to kill our soldiers …. Banks financing … terrorists affects every single American.” He also said: “It is disgusting that our banks are STILL financing terror on 9/11 2013“. And see this)
- Financing illegal arms deals, and funding the manufacture of cluster bombs (and see this and this) and other arms which are banned in most of the world
- Handling money for rogue military operations
- Laundering money for drug cartels. See this, this, this, this and this (indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis). A whistleblower said: “America is losing the drug war because our banks are [still] financing the cartels“, and “Banks financing drug cartels … affects every single American“. And see this.)
- Engaging in mafia-style big-rigging fraud against local governments. See this, this and this
- Shaving money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide. Details here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
- Manipulating aluminum and copper prices
- Manipulating gold prices … on a daily basis
- Charging “storage fees” to store gold bullion … without even buying or storing any gold . And raiding allocated gold accounts
- Committing massive and pervasive fraud both when they initiated mortgage loans and when they foreclosed on them (and see this)
- Pledging the same mortgage multiple times to different buyers. See this, this, this, this and this. This would be like selling your car, and collecting money from 10 different buyers for the same car
- Cheating homeowners by gaming laws meant to protect people from unfair foreclosure
- Committing massive fraud in an $800 trillion dollar market which effects everything from mortgages, student loans, small business loans and city financing
- Manipulating the hundred trillion dollar derivatives market
- Engaging in insider trading of the most important financial information
- Pushing investments which they knew were terrible, and then betting against the same investments to make money for themselves. See this, this, this, this and this
- Engaging in unlawful “frontrunning” to manipulate markets. See this, this, this, this, this and this
- Engaging in unlawful “Wash Trades” to manipulate asset prices. See this, this and this
- Manipulating corporate bonds through derivatives schemes
- Otherwise manipulating markets. And see this
- Charging veterans unlawful mortgage fees
- Helping the richest to illegally hide assets
- Cooking their books (and see this)
- Bribing and bullying ratings agencies to inflate ratings on their risky investments
- Violently cracking down on peaceful protesters
The executives of the big banks invariably pretend that the hanky-panky was only committed by a couple of low-level rogue employees. But studies show that most of the fraud is committed by management.
Indeed, one of the world’s top fraud experts – professor of law and economics, and former senior S&L regulator Bill Black – says that most financial fraud is “control fraud”, where the people who own the banks are the ones who implement systemic fraud. See this, this and this.
The failure to go after Wall Street executives for criminal fraud is the core cause of our sick economy.
And experts say that all of the government’s excuses for failure to prosecute the individuals at the big Wall Street banks who committed fraud are totally bogus.
The big picture is simple:
- The big banks manipulate every market they touch
- Too much interconnectedness leads to financial instability
- The government has given the banks huge subsidies … which they are using for speculation and other things which don’t help the economy. In other words, propping up the big banks by throwing money at them doesn’t help the economy
- Top economists, financial experts and bankers say that the big banks are too large … and their very size is threatening the economy. They say we need to break up the big banks to stabilize the economy
- The big banks own the D.C. politicians … so Congress and the White House won’t do anything unless the people force change