March 11, 2009

I'm glad to hear this investigation is widening, because you just don't steal that much money without someone else knowing about it:

Two days before Bernard Madoff enters an 11-count guilty plea in Manhattan federal court, the investigation into his giant Ponzi scheme has broadened to include a number of suspected co-conspirators, according to federal officials involved in the case. Madoff’s lawyer told a judge today that there was no “deal” connected to Madoff’s confessing to money laundering, mail fraud, and other counts that will likely result in a life sentence.

Ruth Madoff, who was considered “innocent at first,” is believed to have received at least $70 million from her husband and is now therefore an object of the investigation.

That tallies with the revelation, from another source involved in the probe, that Madoff has not been cooperating in good faith with investigators. “He is not reliable. He’s jerking everyone around,” said the source. “Every day he changes his tune about where the money went and where it is. He’s trying to protect his family.”

A source close to the Madoff defense team agreed that Madoff’s main concern was to preserve as much assets as possible for his wife and children and to keep them from legal entanglements. “The US attorney’s office is still trying to resolve what is tainted or clean money, what real property in the US is appropriate for the Madofffs to keep,” the source said.

That may prove difficult. Sources say new information has surfaced that suggests several members of Madoff’s inner circle transferred assets to their wives, transactions thought to be laundered through an English bank.

Ruth Madoff, who was considered “innocent at first,” according to this source, is believed to have received at least $70 million from her husband and is now therefore an object of the investigation. That is one reason why she recently decided to retain her own lawyer, leaving Ira Sorkin, who has represented both of the Madoffs since December, when the Ponzi scheme was revealed.

Investigators are focusing their attention on three groups of possible co-conspirators. “There should be at least 20 indictments, between the three groups, if the feds are doing their jobs,” said one highly placed lawyer involved in the case. “Some will be conspiracy, the ones who were deep into it with Madoff, and others will be civil cases sent to the SEC for prosecution.”

(Lawyers and prosecutors who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article declined to go on the record, citing their legal involvement in the case.)

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