The current most famous ponzi schemer in the world, 70 year old Bernie Madoff has been charged with 11 criminal court counts that could send him away for 150 years if convicted on all counts.
The alleged swindler behind a, “unprecedented” $US50 billion fraud, Mr Madoff is expected to plead guilty to all 11 counts including: securities fraud, wire fraud, false statements, investment advisor fraud, mail fraud, perjury, three counts of money laundering, false filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission and theft from an employee benefit plan.
"The charges reflect an extraordinary array of crimes committed by Bernard Madoff for over 20 years. While the alleged crimes are not novel, the size and scope of Mr. Madoff's fraud are unprecedented”, says acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin.
A ponzi scheme is named after its first perpetrator Charles Ponzi, and is a fraud in which early investors are paid with the money of new clients.
Mr Madoff’s scheme offered amazingly consistent returns of between 10 percent and 12% - which collapsed in last year's market meltdown.
"There is no innocent explanation," Madoff told two FBI agents, according to the complaint, which states Madoff expects to go to jail.
There is also no plea agreement with Mr Madoff (who is waiving his right to a grand jury indictment), even though defendants pleading guilty often reach a plea bargain where they only admit guilt on some charges in return for their cooperation.
"The government has not entered into any agreement with Mr. Madoff about his plea or sentencing. The filing of these charges does not end the matter. Our investigation is continuing” says Mr Dassin.
US government prosecutors are demanding Mr Madoff forfeit all of the money and property that can be traced back to the alleged fraud over its (“at least”) two decade long duration – an amount they estimate is more than $US170.8 billion.
Investors suing the feeder funds that channeled their money to Mr Madoff are charging the feeders with fraud, negligence or breach of fiduciary duty - but may not have as strong a case as they think, according to Bloomberg.
He remains under house arrest at his “luxurious” Central Park penthouse apartment in Manhattan on $US10 million bail, awaiting his next court appearance Friday (NZ time), when he may then be jailed until sentencing.