Madoff: Banks, Hedge Funds 'Had to Know'

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Financier Bernard Madoff arrives at Manhattan Federal court on March 12, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

    Bernard Madoff asserted in a new interview from prison that banks and hedge funds were somehow "complicit" in his fraud, a turnaround from his earlier claims.

    "They had to know," Madoff told The New York Times. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’"

    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.

    Madoff disputed reports that he refused to attend funeral services for his son, Mark, who committed suicide in December. He told the Times that the prison would not approve a request for him to go "because of the public safety issue" and the last-minute nature of the arrangements.

    He also said he is helping the court-appointed trustee who is trying to recoup money for investors he deceived.

    He told the newspaper that he has met with Irving Picard, the trustee, and has given Picard's legal team "information I knew would be instrumental in recovering assets from those people complicit in the mess I put myself into."

    Picard has filed dozens of lawsuits, including against the Mets owners -- Fred Wilpon and his Sterling Equities associates, for allegedly ignoring warning signs of fraud as they continued to cash in over the years. Madoff told the Times that Wilpon and Saul Katz, Wilpon's brother-in-law and business partner "knew nothing. They knew nothing," he said.

    Madoff's nearly two-decade scheme ensnared thousands of victims, including charities, celebrities and institutional investors. An estimated $20 billion was lost, making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.