Bernard Lawrence "Bernie" Madoff (pronounced /ˈmeɪdɒf/; born April 29, 1938) is a former American stockbroker, businessman, investor, investment advisor, money manager, and former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, and the admitted operator of what has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
In March 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Madoff said he began the Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s. However, federal investigators believe the fraud began as early as the 1970s, and those charged with recovering the missing money believe the investment operation may never have been legitimate. The amount missing from client accounts, including fabricated gains, was almost $65 billion. The court-appointed trustee estimated actual losses to investors of $18 billion. On June 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.
Jeffry Picower, rather than Madoff, appears to have been the largest beneficiary of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and his estate settled the claims against it for $7.2 billion. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. may have also benefitted from the scheme – through interest and fees charged – to the tune of a billion dollars. Trustee Irving Picard has filed suit seeking the return of $1 billion and damages of $5.4 billion. Morgan denied complicity. According to the same lawsuit, New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and associated individuals and firms, received $300 million from the scheme. Wilpon and Katz "categorically reject" the charges.