Sucked-in Bernie Madoff: your timing was terrible
What a relief. The poster boy of the Global Financial Crisis Bernard Madoff, 71, will never see the outside of a jail after the United States District Court handed him a 150 year sentence for orchestrating his “evil” $US65 billion ponzi scheme .
When you’re as old as Bernie any sentence more than 25 years may as well be 1000 years, but the judge in this case Denni Chin obviously decided enough was enough.
And if Madoff had have been caught three years ago - before the mirage built by the burghers of Wall Street evaporated and revealed to us the GFC, he might have ended up one of those corporate crims who do their time and are out again to enjoy their yachts before they die.
The sentence is shocking.
We’re so used to seeing our “white collar criminals” (an offensive term if ever there was one) get off with a slap on the wrist and six years in a low-security penal farm, many of Madoff’s victims would have been bracing themselves for disappointment.
150 years won’t do anything to restore $US13.2 billion to the 1341 victims identified so far. But it might make wannabe Bernie Madoffs think twice before using the hard-earned retirement money of others to fund their own lavish lifestyles.
The Defence had asked for 12 years, for what Madoff himself called a “terrible mistake” and an “error of judgement.”
Victim Tom Fitzmaurice, told the court: “He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values.”
“He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife Ruth could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”
The biggest let down for Mr Fitzmaurice today might be that Ruth Madoff gets to keep about $3 million, presumably because the court decided she didn’t know anything about the scam.
“Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years,” Mrs Madoff said. She shouldn’t, however, be expecting any sympathy from the people who are now homeless because of her husband.
While you wouldn’t bother arguing against the sentence, Bernie is probably wondering if he got the raw end of the GFC stick.
While obviously there were many law abiding citizens in charge of the sub-prime lending frenzy, there’s a lot of people with a lot to answer for regarding what went on in the big investment and lending banks in the middle of this decade, and the world-wide consequences of their recklessness.
And Bernie has become the lightening rod for everyone off Wall Street who has lost money, jobs, houses, cars and their dignity.
His extraordinary sentence looms large over other far more modest prison terms handed out to corporate crooks by the US District Court. And his team would never have considered worst case scenario would be quite so full on.
People are looking for someone to blame for the mess we’re in, and Bernie Madoff is the prime candidate.
He might be wishing he was caught in 2006.
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