Fake trades and a fridge used in Madoff fraud: witness

Mon Dec 2, 2013 6:31pm EST
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bernard Madoff's longtime lieutenant testified on Monday that several former colleagues were deeply enmeshed in Madoff's decades-long Ponzi scheme, using everything from fake trades to a refrigerator to hide the truth about the fraud.

Frank DiPascali, Madoff's one-time chief financial officer, told jurors in New York federal court that the scheme stretched back "as far as I can remember," to his earliest days at the firm as a 19-year-old in the mid-1970s.

DiPascali, 57, is the government's star witness in its case against five former Madoff employees charged with abetting Madoff's fraud. It is the first criminal trial stemming from the scheme, which imploded in late 2008 and cost investors an estimated $17 billion.

The five defendants in the case are Daniel Bonventre, the director of operations for the firm's back office; Annette Biongiorno and Joann Crupi, who managed clients' investment accounts for the unit where the fraud took place, and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.

They all claim that Madoff tricked them into believing his investment business was legitimate.

Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence, has said he acted alone.

PLAYING IT COOL

On Monday, DiPascali testified that Biongiorno inserted fake trades into customer statements, including hedges that were never placed, in order to make it seem as though clients had not lost money when the stock market cratered in 1987.   Continued...

 
Accused swindler Bernard Madoff exits the Manhattan federal court house in New York January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid