Justice Dept. Commits to Review Madoff Victims Fund
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department has committed to review a years-long delay in the distribution of $4 billion in aid to the victims of Bernie Madoff’s investment scandal. The move comes two weeks after Congressman Vern Buchanan urged the Attorney General to expedite payments for those defrauded by Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, under questioning this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Madoff’s victims should be reimbursed “as quickly as possible.”
Rosenstein added, “I can commit to you that I will look into that and figure out why it is taking so long.”
Buchanan said he was “pleased the Justice Department has agreed to review the matter. These victims, many of whom are from Sarasota and Southwest Florida, were cheated out of their life savings and are now being denied timely compensation from a fund that was specifically created to help them."
In a letter sent two weeks ago to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Buchanan said Madoff’s victims have not received a penny from the $4 billion victims fund created five years ago yet the firm responsible for distributing the money has been paid $39 million.
Florida is home to the second-largest number of Madoff victims after New York, where the investment company was based. As reported by the Miami Herald, according to Madoff’s client list, nearly one in five of his customers hailed from Florida.
The compensation fund was created in December 2012 by the Justice Department to repay thousands of Madoff’s victims after the U.S. seized $2.4 billion from the estate of one of his biggest investors, the late Jeffry Picower. The fund grew by $1.7 billion following a 2014 forfeiture deal with Madoff’s bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., which was accused of turning a blind eye to the scam.