The Madoff scandal: Surveying the wreckage on fifth ‘anniversary’

Despite time passed, level of complexity means many large issues concerning recovering of funds are still up in the air.

Bernard Madoff 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bernard Madoff 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Five years after the arrest of Bernard Madoff and the blowing open of one of the largest fraud’s perpetrated in history, $4.9 billion of the approximately $17 billion principal (and $64 billion value on paper) which Madoff swindled and squandered has been recovered and repaid to some of his victims.
But the level of complexity of the fraud and the sheer breadth of the victims has meant that many large issues are still up in the air.
After thousands of lawsuits, two major court cases are still pending – with no clear decision date – which reportedly could determine the fate of as much as another $7 billion in recoveries for victims.
An entire industry has sprung up around the Madoff cases, with the US government’s lead prosecuting trustee earning around $800 million in legal fees, and ironically in light of the context, investment funds betting on cases and trading the rights to expected winnings of some cases.
At the same time, the trustee and a variety of parties are negotiating and determining which victims will not get paid and which will get “refunded” only part of their losses in light of the impossibility of completely repaying all victims.
Madoff also broke his silence recently in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, accusing his investors of knowing that he was perpetrating fraud on their behalf, but enjoying the strong investment returns and wanting not to ask hard questions.