The trial has begun for the 5 ex-Madoff employees accused of aiding Bernie Madoff’s multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme, and federal prosecutors have accused the defendants of generating “millions of pages of lies” in order to let the fraud continue.
In Manhattan federal court, prosecutors began to set forth the alleged lies in their opening statement, including details how exactly the ex-employees forged documents in order to make them seem legitimate. In one statement, prosecutors claimed the defendants argued over the size of an asterisk, trying to make every single detail of their lie correct.
Prosecutors say all of the lies had one goal: for the defendants to obtain personal wealth.
“For more than 30 years, Bernard Madoff ran a multibillion-dollar fraud that turned out to be the biggest Ponzi scheme ever,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz said. “These are the people who helped him do it.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the full trial could take as long as five months. Several other Madoff employees, including Madoff’s brother Peter and a company bookkeeper, have already been arrested and charged. Before these five, however, all had settled out of court. As a result, this trial should provide the most in-depth look into the inner workings of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme yet.
The five employees on trial are portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi and ex-operations chief Daniel Bonventre, all accused of concocting fake records; and Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, computer programmers accused of creating fake customer accounts.
The government is still looking to recoup more of the $17 billion that thousands of investors lost in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Many are still waiting to have their funds returned.