Madoff gets 150 years for US's biggest financial fraud

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 30, 2009 07:30 hrs

Bernard Madoff, the mastermind of biggest financial fraud in American history, was sentenced on Monday to 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible,

New York Judge Denny Chin said the 71-year-old Madoff's $65-billion financial fraud that affected hundreds investors around the world was "unprecedented in this century".

His victims, nine of whom testified in the New York court ahead of the sentencing, called him a "beast" and "monster" and demanded the maximum punishment. His attorneys had asked for 12 years due to his advanced age.

Madoff in his own testimony said he would "live in a tormented state" for his crime, which cost more than 1,000 investors their life savings or considerable chunk of them.

"I left a legacy of shame for my family and I will live with that for the rest of my life," Madoff told the court.

Turning directly to face the victims present in the court, he said: "I apologise to you, my victims. I'm sorry."

The sentencing, while providing some closure to victims, will still leave many fighting to recover some of their lost money.

That recovery came one step closer on Friday when the New York court ruled that Madoff's wife Ruth must give up the bulk of the family's estate.

The family will have to surrender numerous villas, yachts and cars worth $80 million, Judge Denny Chin ruled. She can keep about $2.5 million.

Madoff ran a pyramid "Ponzi" scheme for years, faking earnings by continuously drawing in new investors. The system collapsed late last year when investors began to withdraw funds amid the financial crisis.

Madoff was first arrested in December and pleaded guilty to the crime in March.

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