Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Bernard Madoff loses right to leave home


Facing a growing chorus of angry investors, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff lost his right to leave his home on Friday and was ordered to hire private around-the-clock security guards to protect him.

US Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz approved the revised bail conditions after prosecutors sent a letter requesting them earlier in the day. The letter, signed by Assistant US Attorney Marc Litt, did not explain why the bail conditions needed to be tightened.

Madoff, 70, a former NASDAQ stock market chairman, has become one of the most vilified people in the US since word broke last week that he allegedly plundered US$50 billion from investors.

The changes replaced a curfew established this week that allowed Madoff to leave his Manhattan apartment during the day.

He will be confined to his apartment at all times, except for court appearances.

The order calls for Madoff’s wife to pay for a security firm to provide 24-hour video monitoring of Madoff’s apartment doors. It also requires communications devices and services enabling the firm to send a direct signal from an observation post to the FBI if there is an “appearance of harm or flight.”

“The security firm will provide additional guards available on request if necessary to prevent harm or flight,” the order said.

Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, said the order “speaks for itself.”

About his client’s safety, Sorkin said: “We are always concerned about the health and well-being of high-profile clients and we take whatever measures are appropriate.”

Madoff’s bail conditions have been gradually increased as angry investors who lost billions seek information about what happened to money they thought was safely invested with someone who was widely respected on Wall Street for nearly half a century.

A week ago, Madoff was released on US$10 million bail only on the signature of himself and his wife.

When he could not get a total of five signatures on his bail package to vouch for him, a curfew was imposed.

The bail development occurred a day after Madoff was ordered to provide a written list by year-end of his assets and liabilities, a key step in finding what is left for investors.

US District Judge Louis Stanton signed an order late on Thursday requiring Madoff to provide a verified accounting of all his assets, liabilities and property to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The court filings came as investigators spent another day trying to untangle Madoff’s operation.

Investigators have started serving grand jury subpoenas requiring witnesses to testify and seeking documents, an official familiar with the case said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, declined to identify who had been served or specify what documents were wanted.

Also on Friday, Tufts University became the latest group to come forward as a Madoff victim, saying it had lost US$20 million, or about 2 percent of the school’s endowment.

The school invested the money with an investment firm called Ascot Partners LP, managed by the chairman of GMAC Financial Services, J. Ezra Merkin. Other universities also lost a bundle with Ascot through the Madoff connection, including New York Law School.

Madoff and his family essentially turned him in to authorities last week, blowing the whistle on what authorities said he confessed was a “giant Ponzi scheme.”

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