Most Europeans swindled by Madoff get money back

26th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A majority of the European victims of Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff got their money back, their lawyers said Tuesday in New York.

About 720,000 investors, or 80 percent of Madoff's European clients, received a total 15.5 billion dollars after an agreement was reached with intermediary credit institutions, the lawyers said.

Javier Cremades and Gaytri Kachroo told a press conference that most of Madoff's victims overseas had been reimbursed.

"The international banking system is about to overcome the first truly global fraud in history," said Cremades.

Madoff, now 72, was arrested on December 2008 and sentenced in June 2009 after pleading guilty to the Ponzi scheme in which existing investors were paid returns stolen from new investors' capital.

Major investors, including international banks and Hollywood moguls, believed Madoff to be running one of the most performing, reliable funds on Wall Street.

He claimed before his arrest to have been managing 65 billion dollars.

In reality, he did not invest the money, but shuffled it in an endless pyramid operation that allowed him, his close family and associates to enjoy lavish lifestyles.

Referring to Madoff's 65-billion dollar figure, Cremades stressed that it was "greater than the GDP (gross domestic product) of 105 countries of the 192 that form the UN.

"This fraud affected more than three million investors all over the planet. It is without doubt the biggest fraud of all time," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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