Convicted hedge fund swindler Bernard Madoff gave an interview to New York Magazine, in which he discussed a number of subjects, including government regulatory reform, prison life and his family. He is serving a 150-year prison sentence in Butner, N.C.

Here are some choice quotes from the interview:

“[The Securities and Exchange Commission] looks terrible in this thing.

[My wife] is angry at me. I mean, you know, I destroyed our family.

“How could I have done this? I was making a lot of money. I didn’t need the money. [Am I] a flawed character?”

“I’m not the kind of person I’m being portrayed as.”

“I made a lot of money for my clients”

“[Butner is] as good a place as I could possibly be.”

“My notoriety impresses [fellow inmates]. It shouldn’t, but it does.”

“What’s most upsetting is the way the media blasted my wife and family.”

“We made a very nice living. I didn’t need the investment-advisory business. I took it on and got myself involved in it, but if you think I woke up one morning and said, ‘Well, listen, I need to be able to buy a boat and a plane, and this is what I’m going to do,’ that’s wrong.”

“I had more than enough money to support my lifestyle and my family’s lifestyle. I allowed myself to be talked into something, and that’s my fault. I thought I could extricate myself after a short period of time. But I just couldn’t.”

“Does anybody want to hear that I had a successful business and did all these wonderful things for the industry? And got all these awards? And so did my family? I did all of this during the legitimate years. No. You don’t read any of that.”

“I was upset with the whole idea of not being in the [Wall Street insiders club]. I was this little Jewish guy from Brooklyn.”

“I realized from a very early stage that the [financial & investment] market is a whole rigged job. There’s no chance that investors have in this market.”

“I was making at one point over $100 million a year.”

“The chairman of Banco Santander came down to see me, the chairman of Credit Suisse came down, chairman of UBS came down; I had all of these major banks. You know, [Edmond] Safra coming down and entertaining me and trying [to invest with Madoff]. It is a head trip. [Those people] sitting there, telling you, ‘You can do this.’ It feeds your ego. All of a sudden, these banks which wouldn’t give you the time of day, they’re willing to give you a billion dollars.”

“Look, these banks and these funds had to know there were problems. I wouldn’t give them any facts, like how much volume I was doing. I was not willing to have them come up and do the due diligence that they wanted. I absolutely refused to do it. I said, ‘You don’t like it, take your money out,’ which of course they never did.”

“[The fraud] was a nightmare for me. It was only a nightmare for me. It’s horrible. When I say nightmare, imagine carrying this secret. Look, imagine going home every night not being able to tell your wife, living with this ax over your head, not telling your sons, my brother, seeing them every day in the business and not being able to confide in them.”

“My wife doesn’t forgive me, but at least she understood. With my sons I could never explain what happened.”

“I was very proud of my sons, and they were very proud of me, what I accomplished. They liked being a Madoff. There was a lot of recognition in that, you know.”

“I lived very extravagantly. In the end, I bought a plane with another person. I had a boat [and four homes]. You’re talking about someone who had a billion dollars.”

“[Prospective investors] were all told by me, ‘Don’t invest any more money than you could afford to lose. This is the stock market. There’s always stuff that can happen. Brokerage firms can fail. I could go crazy and do something stupid. If you want a [safe thing], put your money in government bonds. So everybody understood this.”

“Everyone was greedy. I just went along. It’s not an excuse.” Look, there was complicity, in my view.”
“It’s unbelievable. Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions—the whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.”

“Look, none of my clients, even if they lost every penny they put in there, can plead poverty. Look, it doesn’t mean I’m excusing what I did, doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for them. I’m embarrassed … It was the people that came in very late in the game that got hurt. All of my friends, most of my individual clients, are not net losers. Now if you listen to [them], they’re living out of Dumpsters and they don’t have any money, and I’m sure it’s a traumatic experience to some, but I made a lot of money for people. Does it justify it? No.”

“I was always able to rationalize [the fraud]… Look, I tried to give moneys back to my individual clients when I realized it was impossible to get myself out. I tried to return funds to my friends, moneys to the smaller clients. They wouldn’t take it back … Everybody said, ‘No, you can’t do that. You can’t send me my money back. I’ve been a friend of yours, or a client, for years’ … I couldn’t tell them I would have been doing them a favor. I couldn’t. I mean, could I have insisted? Yes.”

“I did block [my fraud] out of my mind. I had no choice.”

“Let me tell you, I cried for well over two weeks [over the suicide death of my son Mark]. I cried and cried. I didn’t come out of my room. I didn’t speak to anybody, and so on. I have tears in my eyes when I’m talking to you, even. Not a day goes by that I don’t suffer. I may sound okay on the phone. Trust me, I’m not okay. And never will be.”

“With both my sons, I could never even explain to them what happened. Of course, it’s too late for my son Mark, but my son Andy … I can’t get a message to Andy. The lawyers don’t want that to happen.”