It’s been more than eight years since the notorious Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to his wide sweeping Ponzi scheme, the $772.5 million of which is just now being distributed back to the scheme’s 24,000 victims.
This is the largest restoration of forfeited property in history,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. Officials ultimately expect to return more than $4 billion to victims.
While the initial amount being returned is substantial, it’s still a fraction of the overall amount that New York lawyer Irving Picard was able to recover in the liquidation of Madoff’s firm. Between the efforts of Picard and the government, Madoff investors stand to recover about 75% of their $17.5 billion in losses.
Notoriously, various high-profile New York investors initially invested with Madoff, including the Wilpon family who own the New York Mets. Many different non-profit organizations also suffered huge losses from the ponzi scheme, including the Yeshiva University taking a $140 million hit, Hadassah $90 million and the foundation of Elie Wiesel losing $15 million. (Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, also lost his life savings.) Ezra Merkin, whose family name graces a West Side concert hall, funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Madoff.
The victims fund administered by the Justice Department was created in 2012. It got a $1.7 billion cash infusion in 2014 when Madoff’s bank, JPMorgan Chase, settled allegations that it had turned a blind eye to the decades-long fraud.
Read the full story over at Crain’s New York Business.