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Ex-financier Madoff to plead guilty
Former US financier accused of huge fraud could spend rest of his life in jail.
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2009 14:05 GMT

Madoff is expected to plead guilty to 11 criminal charges relating to a $50bn fraud scheme [AFP]

Bernard Madoff, the former US financier accused of orchestrating one of Wall Street's biggest frauds, is set to appear in court to face charges that could place him in prison for the rest of his life.

Madoff is due to plead guilty on Thursday to 11 felony charges related to directing a $50bn fraud scheme, Ira Sorkin, his defence lawyer, said.

A former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange, Madoff is accused of soliciting billions of dollars from pension funds, charities and other investors in a scheme that prosecutors say began in the 1980s.

Prosecutors had charged Madoff with one count of securities fraud following his arrest in December.

But US authorities have revealed 10 additional charges against him, including investment adviser fraud, false statements, mail fraud, perjury and three counts of money-laundering, according to court documents filed on Tuesday.

No plea deal

Madoff, 70, has confessed to investigators that he ran the scheme - in which early investors are paid off with the money of newer clients - over many years with losses of $50bn.

"There is no plea agreement," Marc Litt, assistant US attorney, said at a hearing for Madoff on Tuesday before a US judge in New York.

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"He must plead guilty to all 11 counts."

Al Jazeera's John Terrett, reporting outside the courthouse in New York, said Madoff is accused with "quite literally masterminding the biggest swindle in US financial history".

Brad Freedman, a lawyer representing about 100 of the victims, said that while some of those who lost their investments to Madoff were celebrities or "super wealthy", most were not.

"Most of the victims are people who worked their entire lives ... put their life savings with Mr Madoff, and lost the entirety of it," Freedman told Al Jazeera.

Madoff faces up to 150 years in prison if convicted.

The judge trying the case said he will not sentence Madoff on Thursday, and that the victims of the alleged fraud will be heard in court.

Madoff has been under house arrest in his $7m Manhattan apartment as part of his $10m bail, which has also required his assets to be frozen.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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