Decisions over restitution for the thousands of investors defrauded by Bernard Madoff have been deferred for three months, the U.S. judge who will sentence the confessed swindler on June 29 ruled on Wednesday.
Manhattan federal court judge Denny Chin granted a request made on Friday by U.S. prosecutors who said they needed more time to calculate the amount of money lost and the number of those swindled in Madoff's decades-long investment scheme.
I find that the number of victims, the difficulties posed by the lack of proper record-keeping, and the scope, complexity, and duration of the fraud make it impossible, at this stage, to determine whether restitution is practicable, the judge said in a written order.
It said the date for determining whether restitution is practicable and if so, establishing a restitution schedule is postponed for 90 days from next Monday's sentencing of financier Madoff, a former nonexecutive chairman of the Nasdaq stock market.
Usually, issues of restitution to victims of financial crimes are determined at sentencing because it is mandatory under the law to those directly and proximately harmed by fraud.
Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty on March 12 to orchestrating Wall Street's biggest investment fraud of as much as $65 billion over 20 years. He was immediately jailed and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.
So far, the trustee winding down Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC has identified 1,341 account holders who collectively lost about $13 billion as of December 11, 2008, when the FBI arrested Madoff, according to government papers filed on Friday night.
The case is USA v Madoff 09-213 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)
(Reporting by Grant McCool, editing by Matthew Lewis)