30 Jun 2009

Madoff jailed 150 years for fraud

3:19 pm on 30 June 2009

Wall Street fraudster Bernard Madoff has been given the maximum prison sentence of 150 years for robbing investors of $US65 billion.

The sentencing was greeted with cheers and applause in the courtroom in New York.

Madoff's lawyer had sought a more lenient sentence of 12 years. The sentence came after the court heard emotional statements from a number of Madoff's victims.

US District Judge Chin on Monday gave Madoff the maximum sentence on all 11 charges, which included securities fraud and money laundering. He said "the breach of trust was massive".

Before the sentencing, Madoff apologised for the "legacy of shame" he had brought on his family and the industry.

The BBC reports the length of the sentence was unexpected.

Madoff admitted defrauding thousands of investors in a Ponzi scheme which he said had been running since the early 1990s.

A Ponzi scheme pays investors from money paid in by other investors rather than real profits. It is named after Charles Ponzi who used the technique in the United States in the 1920s.

Assets seized

Following a request from the prosecutors, Judge Chin has ordered that Madoff forfeit over $US170 billion in illegally obtained assets.

In an accompanying order, a district court in New York also stipulated that his wife be stripped of $US85 million in assets, leaving her with $US2.5 million in cash.