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Bernard L. Madoff, the mastermind of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, leaves Federal Court in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009.
Convicted Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff asserted in a new interview from prison that banks and hedge funds were somehow "complicit" in his scheme to fleece victims out of billions of dollars, a turnaround from his earlier claims.
The Ponzi schemer spoke to The New York Times for two hours at the North Carolina prison where he is serving a 150-year sentence. It was his first interview for publication since his December 2008 arrest.
The New York Times reporter, Diana B. Henriques, said in the story that she also corresponded with Madoff by email. All the communications are part of research for her book, "The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust," to be published this spring.
"They had to know," Madoff said of the banks and hedge funds he claims knew about his fraud."But the attitude was sort of, 'If you’re doing something wrong, we don't want to know.'"
He didn't name them or say they had specific knowledge or were accomplices of his Ponzi scheme, but that they had failed to practice due diligence.
A court-appointed trustee seeking to recover money for Madoff's victims has filed a lawsuit against his primary banker, JPMorgan Chase. The bank denies any wrongdoing.
In e-mails to the paper, Madoff said he's cooperating with the trustee, Irving Picard, and has met with his investigators over four days last summer.
Madoff also says that his family didn't know about his Ponzi scheme -- and neither did the owners of the New York Mets.
He lashed out at the "disgraceful" coverage of his son Mark's suicide and said that prison officials barred him from the funeral, citing public safety. If allowed to attend, he said his presence would have turned the service into a media circus, an experience that would have been "cruel" for his family.
Madoff spoke to the newspaper through e-mails and during a two-hour interview at a Butner, N.C., federal prison where he's serving a 150-year sentence.
One of Madoff's many victims said she wasn't impressed with his comments.
"It was all about him, with no compassion at all for the enormous devastation that he's left in his wake," said Ilene Kent of the Network for Investor Action and Protection.