Prosecutors request 'maximum punishment' of 150 years for Madoff

Prosecutors have asked for "the maximum punishment allowed by law" of 150 years in prison for Bernard Madoff, who is accused of losing his clients' money through a fraudulent investment scheme worth an estimated $61 billion.


AFP - US authorities have asked for 150 years in jail for disgraced Wall Street mogul Bernard Madoff, who is accused of mounting one of the largest fraudulent operations of modern times, according to documents made public here.

"The scope, duration and nature of Madoff's crimes render him exceptionally deserving of the maximum punishment allowed by law," prosecutor Lev Dassin said in a memorandum.

He added that "a reasonable sentence in his case would be the guidelines sentence of 150 years or, alternatively, a term of years that both would assure that Madoff remain in prison for life, and forcefully would promote general deterrence."

The former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange operated the fraud for decades, conning investors into depositing billions of dollars that were then used to pay fictitious returns.

Madoff has been in jail since March after admitting guilt in the scheme, the biggest in Wall Street history and estimated to have involved around 61 billion dollars.

Many of the investors were elderly retirees who thought their life savings were in safe hands.

Madoff told the court in March that of the billions of dollars which passed through his hands during his three-decade scam he never invested one cent in the market. Instead he stashed the funds in a Chase Manhattan bank account.

The funds were then used to pay out "dividends" to investors in what is known as a "Ponzi scheme."

Prosecutors say about 13 billion dollars were handed to Madoff. The financier himself has talked about losing some 50 billion dollars, which is believed to be the amount that would have been paid out had the funds been properly invested.

The sums were shockingly large -- bigger than the gross domestic product of countries such as Luxembourg, and more than the external debt of several poor African nations.

The financier returns to a New York courtroom Monday for sentencing after pleading guilty to one of the biggest, most complex financial scams in history.

Meanwhile, US District Judge Denny Chin authorized the confiscation of 170 billion dollars seen as illegally obtained by Madoff

"Bernard Madoff is liable for a personal money judgement in the amount of 170,000,000,000 dollars, a sum of money representing the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of ... offenses charged in counts 1, 3, 4 and 11 of the information," the judge wrote, referring to the charges against the tycoon.


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