My law enforcement sources have watched closely the coverage of Ruth Madoff ‘s statement today, which her legal team issued after her husband Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a $65 bn Ponzi scheme.
What strikes them as most telling now is not what she said, but what she didn't say. And her actions as well.
Madoff has told authorities that he acted alone. But US prosecutors and law enforcement are investigating his family, including his wife of about 40 years. As part of his sentencing, Ruth has agreed to keep $2.5 mn of her claim of more than $80 mn in assets. Ruth still may also be sued by investors.
Ruth was also allegedly doing accounting for her husband in his offices, and allegedly may have overseen commingling of customer funds with personal accounts, an eyebrow-raising report reveals (see below).
“I am breaking my silence now because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie's crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth,” Ruth Madoff said in the statement.
“From the moment I learned from my husband that he had committed an enormous fraud, I have had two thoughts -- first, that so many people who trusted him would be ruined financially and emotionally, and second, that my life with the man I have known for over 50 years was over,” she said in the statement.
Ruth withdrew more than $15.5 mn from a brokerage account on which she was co-owner along with her husband, in the weeks prior to his arrest. Other reports indicate her epic swindler of a husband made the withdrawals. Regardless of who made the withdrawals or the trades, she enjoyed the benefits of this transaction, law enforcement sources say.
Specifically, $5.5 mn was withdrawn on November 25, 2008, and two weeks later another $10 mn on December 10, 2008, from their brokerage account at Cohmad Securities. Cohmad was a feeder fund which had an office in Madoff's headquarters and was part-owned by him.
Also in November, another $2 mn was withdrawn from her husband's London office, Madoff Securities International Ltd. Also, Ruth Madoff owned interests in real estate funds sponsored by Sterling Equities. Furthermore, Ruth and Bernard's brother Peter Madoff, invested as “passive limited partners” in real estate funds sponsored by the company, as well as other venture investments.
Here's a top law enforcement official's take on it:
“Her statement was emotional, it basically talks about emotion and betrayal."
"It tellingly addresses nothing about her knowledge of his business. It avoids all such discussion."
"Law enforcement could not compel Ruth to testify, due to spousal protection laws."
"And to this day, neither Ruth Madoff, nor the sons, have volunteered to testify."
"Nor are they cooperating with law enforcement."
“So we would say this to Ruth: If you believe that your husband, as you said in your statement today, lied to you, then why are you not sitting down with law enforcement immediately if you truly believe he lied to you?"
"Why are you not helping us get investors' money back?”
“Why aren't you driving down with your attorney to say, I will do whatever I will have to? And why aren't your sons?”
“They are not cooperating with law enforcement, if they are truly sorry and if they were duped, you would think they would be running to law enforcement to help.”
“But to this day they have shown they are not willing to help.”
“So ask yourself, what is the Madoff family doing now, knowing Bernard is evil? How are they responding?"
“Today, Ruth says she does know about her husband. But what is she doing, what has she done since?"
"She's done nothing to help to law enforcement and to volunteer her services, she has not even said anything to help find the assets, at minimum she has not said she would do everything in her power to help.”
Her silence speaks volumes.
Lucinda Franks, a New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, reports for The Daily Beast that key investigators now believe Ruth Madoff played a larger role than previously assumed in her husband's Ponzi scheme, and that the fraud began far earlier than other reports have indicated. Plus, Franks reports, "20 million Madoff documents have been unearthed in a Queens warehouse."
Franks reveals that there was commingling of funds going on at the Madoff operation, funds from the investment advisory business were comingled with Madoff's personal funds and with a market-making fund in which Madoff executed orders for customers as a broker-dealer.
Franks reports that Ruth Madoff, whose father was an accountant, Saul Alpern, oversaw the bookeeping for these three accounts, Franks reports.
The commingling of funds is a violation of regulatory rules that require all customer funds to be segregated from those of the broker-dealer, Franks says. Apparently it was this comingling of funds that enabled the Bernie Madoff scandal to continue for so long, Franks reports.
Franks quotes one highly placed person involved in the inquiries: “If Ruth Madoff had an office there for 37 years and kept the books of this account, wouldn't she have had some inkling that something was wrong? She's there all the time and her husband just blows it by her? They are a really tight couple, did he really keep this secret from her every day of their marriage?”