We've heard nothing from Bernard Madoff since he was convicted of orchestrating a $65 billion Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 150 years behind bars, though fellow inmates have painted a picture of the prison-era Madoff as a kind of unrepentant criminal celebrity.
But Madoff is mum no longer. The New York Times' Diana B. Henriques has just published the first interview
with Madoff since his arrest in December 2008. He looked "noticeably thinner and rumpled in khaki prison garb"
and "seemed frail and a bit agitated," Henriques notes, but still
speaks "with great intensity and fluency about his dealings." Here are some of the biggest
revelations from the interview:
Banks 'Had to Know' of Fraud
long maintained that he acted alone--suggested for the first time that
unnamed banks and hedge funds were "complicit" in his Ponzi scheme by
demonstrating a "willful blindness" when it came to his regulatory
filings and suspicions about his financial results.
"They had to know. But the attitude was sort of, 'If you're doing
something wrong, we don't want to know,'" Madoff said. Henriques adds
that "while he acknowledged his guilt in the interview and said nothing
could excuse his crimes, he focused his comments laserlike on the big
investors and giant institutions he dealt with, not on the financial
pain he caused thousands of his more modest investors."
Madoff's statements are particularly relevant at a time when Irving Picard, the trustee for Madoff's victims, has accused
JPMorgan Chase of harboring serious concerns about Madoff's investment business but not notifying authorities or halting business
with him. Yet, as Henriques notes, federal prosecutors have yet to accuse the major banks and hedge
funds that dealt with Madoff "of knowingly investing in his Ponzi scheme."
Madoff Has Helped Trustee
Madoff claimed he's met with his victims' trustee, Irving Picard, and provided him with information about
the banks and hedge funds he did business with, though he says he hasn't shared this information with federal prosecutors working on
Family Crisis Unforeseen
Madoff said he
didn't foresee the extent of the suffering his fraud would inflict on his family. His relations are confronting a barrage of lawsuits
and his son, Mark, committed suicide
in December. Madoff called some of the press coverage of Mark's death
"disgraceful" and stated that he didn't attend Mark's funeral because of
prison regulations and because he didn't want to turn the funeral into a "media
Mets Owner 'Knew Nothing'
that New York Mets Owner Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law, Saul Katz,
knew or should have known from their financial dealings with Madoff
that he was defrauding investors, but Madoff vehemently denies this: "They knew
nothing. They knew nothing," he asserted.