SPECIAL COVERAGE Bernard Madoff's $50 Billion 'Ponzi Scheme'

In December 2008, respected American Jewish financier Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion "Ponzi scheme" in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.

The former Nasdaq chairman is best known as the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, the closely-held market-making firm he launched in 1960. But he also ran a hedge fund that U.S. prosecutors said racked up $50 billion of fraudulent losses.

Madoff told senior employees of his firm that "it's all just one big lie" and that it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme," with estimated investor losses of about $50 billion, according to the U.S. Attorney's criminal complaint against him.

The impact of the admission has been felt throughout the world; Madoff's victims include European banks and American financial institutions, as well as an ever-growing list of Jewish investors, charities and foundations, who had placed their money in the hands of a familiar and trusted connection.

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