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Disgraced Madoff to forfeit $170bn
Court strips financier and his wife of their wealth.
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2009 07:17 GMT
Madoff faces a maximum sentence of
150 years in jail [EPA]

Bernard Madoff, the disgraced Wall Street financier, has been ordered to forfeit over $170bn, prosecuters said.

Denny Chin, the US district judge assigned to Madoff's case, entered a preliminary order of forfeiture in New York on Friday.

The order forces Madoff to forfeit all of interests to assets, including a $7m apartment in Manhattan, an $11m house in Palm Beach, Florida and a $3m home located in New York's borough of Long Island.

The government also settled claims against Ruth Madoff, the financier's wife, who must also forfeit her interests totalling $80m in property which she had claimed was hers, prosecutors said.

Madoff, 71, a former non-executive chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange, pleaded guilty in March to charges that his secretive investment advisory operation was a multibillion-dollar scam - the largest in US history. 

Madoff could spend the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced on Monday.

Severe punishment

Federal prosecutors want Madoff to be sentenced to 150 years in prison for orchestrating perhaps the largest financial swindle in history.

Madoff's lawyer has said his client should serve only 12 years.

"The sheer scale of the fraud calls for severe punishment," the prosecutors wrote in response to a defence motion seeking lighter punishment.

Federal sentencing guidelines allow for the 150-year term, prosecutors said. Any lesser sentence, they added, should still be long enough to send a forceful message and "assure that Madoff will remain in prison for life".

At the time of Madoff's arrest, fictitious account statements showed thousands of clients had $65bn. But investigators say he never traded securities, and instead used money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients.

Prosecutors said on Friday that the total losses, which span decades, haven't been calculated. But 1,341 accounts opened since December 1995 alone suffered loses of $13.2bn.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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