US authorities on Wednesday delayed indicting Bernard Madoff for 30 days and in a new twist said his wife withdrew US$15.5 million just before the financier’s alleged fraud collapsed.
The latest delay by prosecutors in indicting Madoff stoked speculation that the former NASDAQ stock exchange chairman is attempting to negotiate a guilty plea over charges that he ran a US$50 billion pyramid fraud.
The next deadline for indicting Madoff, 70, and bringing him to trial is March 13, a source familiar with the case said. A similar delay was made last month.
Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11 after allegedly confessing to his two sons and to the FBI that he had run a giant scam known as a Ponzi scheme. He is free on US$10 million bail but confined to his New York apartment under round-the-clock surveillance.
So far, Madoff is the only person charged in what could be the biggest such fraud in Wall Street history. However, family members are among those who have come under the spotlight as investigators probe whether one man could have managed the alleged scheme by himself.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has filed a complaint in which Madoff’s wife Ruth is said to have withdrawn US$15.5 million from a Madoff-linked brokerage ahead of his arrest and alleged confession.
The complaint says that Ruth Madoff took out US$5.5 million on Nov. 25 and US$10 million on Dec. 10 — a day before Madoff’s arrest — from Cohmad Securities Corp.