Bernard Madoff, the disgraced former US financier, pleaded guilty on Thursday to orchestrating the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street history and was jailed to await a sentence that could keep him in prison for the rest of his life.
The charges brought against him on Thursday included fraud, perjury and theft from an employee benefit plan, as well as two counts of international money-laundering.
Madoff, who read from a prepared statement, did not mention the size of the scheme, but prosecutors have said it amounted to as much as $65 billion over 20 years and involved more than 4,800 client accounts.
Madoff said that shutting down the scheme, in which early investors were paid with money from new ones, proved impossible. "As the years went by, I realized that my arrest and this day would inevitably come," he said.
"It's a Pyrrhic, bittersweet victory," said Miriam Siegman, 65, of New York City. A retired consultant, she said she had lost her life savings to Madoff's fraudulent investments and now receives food stamps.
"I have no one to help me. That he's in jail doesn't change that," she said. "I still have the rest of my life to live, or try to live, in incredible stress and in total poverty. He took everything."
Two suicides have been associated with the collapse of Madoff's scheme.
Madoff's investors included hedge funds, banks, Jewish charities, the wealthy, and small individual investors in North and South America and Europe.
After his arrest last December, Madoff was released on bail and confined to his $7 million Manhattan penthouse.
After he pleaded guilty, the judge ordered Madoff to jail and scheduled his sentencing for June 16. Madoff can get up to 150 years for the 11 charges against him, which include securities fraud, money laundering and perjury.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Mart 2009, 14:23