BERNIE Madoff and his wife have been stripped of their wealth after a US judge ordered the disgraced Wall Street banker to hand over $170 billion (£103bn) to the authorities.
Madoff, who will be sentenced by a US court tomorrow, was also told to relinquish all of his property assets, cars, boats and other investments. His wife Ruth's property interests have also been seized by the US government, including $80m worth of property which she had argued belonged to her. She is not, however, facing criminal charges.
Madoff will discover the length of his prison sentence tomorrow after he pleaded guilty to a $50bn fraud in March. Madoff's lawyers have asked for the ageing financier to be handed a 12-year sentence, but prosecutors are pushing for him to remain behind bars until he dies. They are seeking a 150-year imprisonment.
Court papers released in the US on Friday revealed that Madoff, 71, has been told to give up $170bn – the total sum that US authorities have so far been able to connect to his giant Ponzi scheme. That figure does not, however, represent the total that Madoff may have stolen or lost, and the court order released by US attorney Lev Dassin on Friday left the door open for US government departments or other parties to recover further funds in the future.
Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, has previously argued that the $170bn sum sought by the US government was "grossly overstated – and misleading – even for a case of this magnitude".
Among the assets that are to be handed over to the government are the Madoffs' luxurious home in Manhattan, their weekend getaway in Montauk, East Hampton, and a house in Palm Beach, Florida. All insured and high-value belongings contained within the properties will also be taken away. The three properties alone have been valued at nearly $22m.
Dramatic scenes are expected tomorrow when Madoff finally receives his sentence. Letters from victims of the massive fraud, which were released in March, told of the devastation the financier has wrought on their lives.
One victim, Richard Shapiro of Hidden Hills, California, wrote: "Our lives have been turned upside down, forever up-ended, and we have little to no prospects of ever earning back what we lost because of Madoff's crimes, his greed and his sick perversions."
In March, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts connected to the Ponzi scheme which he had been operating since the early 1990s.
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