US prosecutors seek Madoff assets
Case filed in New York identifies $100m of assets held by disgraced financier and wife.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2009 21:55 GMT
Madoff faces a jail sentence of up to 150 years
after pleading guilty to a massive scam [AFP]

Prosecutors in the United States say they will try to claim more than $100m of assets, including homes, yachts, stocks, cash and a piano from disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff and his wife.

A case filed in a New York court on Monday outlined 18 types of fixed and liquid assets ordered seized after Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal charges in connection to a massive financial scam.

Madoff's wife has not been charged in the scandal over the so-called Ponzi scheme - in which money from new investors was used to pay off previous investors looking to withdraw from the scheme. 

Her defence team says she is entitled to keep $69m-worth of assets held in her name.

"The government just believes that these assets were the proceeds of crime, are the result of criminal conduct," Jacob Frenkel, a former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator, said.

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"It does not necessarily mean that the government thinks that she is guilty," he said, referring to Madoff's wife.

Ruth Madoff has been married to Bernard Madoff for nearly 50 years, but she played no formal role at her husband's company and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

However, she has received her share of attention during the case for mailing more than $1m worth of jewelry and watches in violation of a court order as well as withdrawing $15.5m before her husband's arrest on December 11.

Assets frozen

Bernard Madoff's business and personal assets were frozen following his arrest.

The list of assets filed in the district court includes stocks and shares, the Madoff's luxury Manhattan penthouse, homes in upstate New York and Palm Beach, Florida and their "Chateau des Pins" villa in Cap d'Antibes in the south of France.

It also lists four cars, a Steinway piano, silverware, as well as $17m in cash and $45m in bonds in Ruth Madoff's name.

Prosecutors believe that Madoff tricked thousands of clients into handing over about $177bn.

Madoff, who has denied the figure, was jailed on Thursday pending a sentencing hearing on June 16. He could face a jail sentence of up to 150 years.

A court-appointed trustee winding down his company said last month he had recovered about $946.4m for former customers.

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