$2.5 bn sent to Madoff fraud victims

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New York: Victims of Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme will soon receive $2.48 billion in checks to help cover their losses, the trustee handling the case said.

Checks ranging from $1,784 to $526.9 million were sent by mail Wednesday to 1,230 formers customers of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, said court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, tasked with liquidating the Wall Street swindler’s firm.

He said the payout, the second of its kind, more than triples the amount recovered previously, bringing the total to $3.63 billion. After the disbursement, 1,074 customers with legitimate claims will be repaid in full.

“While this progress is extremely gratifying, we will not cease our work to continue recovering assets for the customer fund, and we will make additional distributions as soon as practicable,” Picard said in a statement Thursday.

Madoff, 74, a charismatic mogul who once chaired the Nasdaq stock exchange, is serving a 150-year sentence at a North Carolina jail.

He took in some $65 billion from thousands of clients over decades, building a reputation as a shrewd investment manager by paying out fake “profits” to some investors by plundering the new cash from others.

Madoff counted charities, major banks, Hollywood moguls and savvy financial players among those who invested in his massive Ponzi investment scheme.

But his pyramid fraud collapsed in 2008, wiping out numerous family fortunes. He was arrested in December that year, and pleaded guilty in 2009.

Picard was designated by a federal judge as a trustee charged with recovering as much of the missing money as possible and redistributing it to victims of the fraud.

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