Good News for Madoff Victims: $7.2 Billion Recovered
Fraud investigators and attorneys with the FBI have taken another giant step in recovering money swindled from investors by Bernie Madoff and his ponzi-scheme run BLMIS. The return caps a year in which government authorities and whistleblower attorneys have recovered billions of dollars for taxpayers.
Authorities announced Friday that they had reached a settlement that would return $7.2 billion to victims of Madoff. The refund is the largest to date and more than all of the other funds recovered so far combined.
A trustee tasked with finding and recovering money from the scheme reached the agreement with the widow of Jeffrey Picower, an early investor with Madoff who had profited more than anyone else from the operation.
Picower was named in several lawsuits alleging he was complicit in the Ponzi scheme but the philanthropist maintained he had not been involved. Records indicated he earned profits of 300-500% in some cases and withdrew around $7 billion from his investment account over three decades. He died in October of 2009 from an apparent heart attack.
Following his death, his widow Barbara Picower decided to return the full sum to help ease the suffering of Madoff’s victims. Government authorities are praising her actions which will help many who would have lost everything recover a sizeable part of their investment.
Picower issued a statement calling Madoff’s actions “deplorable” and saying the return of the funds is what her husband would have wanted.
Experts estimate the total amount lost by investors in the Madoff scheme at around $20 billion. Having previously recovered nearly $6 billion, authorities attempting to track down the funds have now recovered a significant portion, likely over $13 billion.
Attorneys for the Department of Justice indicated every cent of the recovered funds would go to paying former investors of Madoff’s operation with valid claims.