Bernard Madoff, the investor accused of an unprecedented 40 billion euro financial swindle, has been charged with 11 criminal counts that could hand him a sentence of 150 years under guidelines.
Lawyers for the 70-year-old former stock market chairman say he is expected to plead guilty to the charges at a hearing on Thursday. Officials say there has been no plea agreement. US prosecutors also gave new details of the alleged fraud in court papers, claiming it started in “at least” the 1980’s. The government says it wants Madoff to forfeit all the money and property that can be traced to his alleged crimes, a sum estimated at 134 billion euros. It is alleged Madoff operated a massive Ponzi scheme — a fraud in which early investors are paid with money from new clients and not profits. It operated well for decades but collapsed in last year’s market meltdown. Dozens of investors hit by the scandal are expected to appear in court in New York on Thursday under rules allowing the victims to appear at plea hearings.