Today Bernie Madoff learns his sentence. With this sentence, just now released as the maximum–150 years–, Bernie Madoff learns how he will ‘exist’ for the balance of his ‘life.’ Today does not represent the end of the pursuit of justice in this massive fraud but truly the beginning.
Victims of crime typically look for justice in two forms: restitution and justice “for all” parties involved.
The victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme will be lucky to receive a small percentage of the monies invested in this fraud. The money is obviously extremely important to all the victims, but there is much more to justice than that.
For justice to truly be served, all of those who aided and abetted this fraud must also be brought to justice and also pay the maximum price. To think that Bernie Madoff managed this scheme by himself is beyond naive. The Wall Street Journal highlights as much in writing, For Victims, Downsized Lives and Many Shattered Dreams,
“I hope he has to go to jail forever,” said Sheila Ennis, 63, of Manhattan Beach, Calif. “I hope they get all his assets, and I do feel others were involved. But now it’s a question of how we fix things for ourselves.”
Not unlike losing a loved one, victims of crime also need closure. That closure is only possible when every individual involved in the crime pays!! A financial settlement with Ruth Madoff should not preclude a potential indictment of her nor her sons. Others directly and indirectly involved in this fraud also need to be fully investigated. To do otherwise would be a miscarriage of justice. If those investigations were to cross into government offices, then so be it, because justice neglected is justice denied!
Make no mistake, the fact that Madoff received the maximum allowable sentence is also an indictment of the SEC. Why? The fact that the Madoff Ponzi scheme grew as large as it did was simply a function of the culpability of the SEC. All those at the SEC who never pursued the Madoff fraud over the years should feel real personal and professional shame today.
As we move forward, I can only hope that our country and all who love it view this Madoff sentencing as the beginning of justice for the Madoff victims but also the beginning of real transparency for victims of all financial frauds.
As I write this, though, I am reminded of the thousands of investors and tens of billions of dollars still frozen in Auction-Rate Securities. Those investors have neither restitution, nor justice, nor real media or judicial investigations truly working for them.
As a nation we truly have a long way to go to regain our moral stature and promote our markets as being free and open for all.