Bernie Madoff Plays the Blame Game

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Bernie Madoff has given his second in-person jailhouse interview, this time to the Financial Times.  In the interview, which in the words of the two reporters who conducted it was "rambling," the disgraced architect of a $65 billion Ponzi scheme suggests that blue-chip banks, regulators and some of his oldest associates knew what he was up to. 

Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, NC, was in a talkative mood, especially when it came to parties he once did business with:

[He] maintained that banks, including JPMorgan Chase, primary banker for his firm, Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities, possessed sufficient account information to detect suspicious activity. He levelled similar accusations against regulators.

He went on to list two other institutions, HSBC and UBC, suggesting that "they are going to have big problems." Madoff made similar allegations in his first in-person interview, which ran in the New York Times on February 15th. However, in that interview he made only vague references.  This is the first time he has named specific institutions.
He also ratted out a few old friends, including Jeffry Picower, Stanley Chais, Norman Levy and Carl Shapiro, suggesting that they are all "complicit." (Picower committed suicide in October of 2009).

The question, of course, is whether Madoff is telling the truth (and if, he is, what, if anything can be done about it). Madoff invited the reporters to visit him, which is somewhat curious.  He has also admitted that he lied to investigators and relatives for many years. On the other hand, prison does reform some people.  And, at this point, there's not much for him to gain from lying. 

Still, Madoff did not offer the reporters any proof or evidence (or anything that they could independently verify) to support his claims. Maybe he's just lonely?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.