Madoff Says He's Behind Recoveries For Victims

Feb 15 2013 | 2:58am ET

Bernard Madoff is feeling unappreciated.

In his latest series of missives to CNBC's Scott Cohn—six e-mails in all—the Ponzi schemer says he's not getting the credit he deserves for helping recover the money he defrauded his victims of, recognition that court-appointed trustee Irving Picard stubbornly refuses to offer.

Picard, who has recovered more than $9 billion of the roughly $17.5 billion lost in the scam, has said that Madoff has "not been helpful." That enraged Madoff, who said it makes him wish he had not pleaded guilty three years ago.

"This is a man that keeps making statements that have no facts to back them up," Madoff wrote of Picard. "I wish I went to trial and he would have been required to provide the evidence he claims he has. As you can see, I am frustrated."

Madoff says his threats of coming clean about his co-conspirators—major banks and investors among them—have been instrumental in setting the stage for Picard's many settlements.

"From the day of my arrest I offered to assist in recovering the investment principal of my customers," Madoff wrote. "I stated that I was confident that I would be able to convince those parties that were complicit in creating my financial problems, to return the money they withdrew from the investment advisory side of my firm. Those parties were well aware of the incriminating evidence I possessed about their complicit activity and wisely came forward with settlements."

What's more, Madoff said, he did so to his own detriment.

"It was my belief that it was more important to use the evidence I had to pressure complicit parties to settle, rather than use this information for a lesser prison sentence for myself," Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence, continued. "As remorseful as I am for the pain and suffering I have shamefully caused, I take some comfort in the fact that my assistance will in fact accomplish what I have originally claimed, that with my assistance all of my customers will recover their original investment principle."

Madoff said he has continued to offer his assistance to Picard. "I have little doubt that the information I could provide would clearly demonstrate the vital role the major banks… played, in the carrying out of my fraud, including their role in handling the accounts of my major customers."

Picard's lawyer, David Sheehan, told CNBC that Madoff is playing games.

"There's always the suggestion that there's more he could help us with. But when we pressed his counsel to give us an example of that before we start getting on an airplane and fly down to see him, we never get anything that's worthwhile. So we have not taken him up on those offers."

In his correspondence with Cohn, Madoff takes credit for the largest of Picard's settlements, a $7.2 million deal with the estate of Jeffrey Picower that makes up the lion's share of the recovered money.

"When I spoke to Picower prior to his death, I made it very clear I would testify about the role of him" in the fraud, Madoff said. Picower's lawyer said such a conversation never took place.

Madoff spent much of his missive railing against Picower, saying he and Sheehan "constantly demonstrate their lack of knowledge of how the market-making and proprietary firms operate," citing the two business he ran that he claims were legitimate. And he denies Picard's claim that his fraud could date back to the 1970s, rather than 1992, when Madoff said it began.

"I completely dispute his claim of it dating back prior to my statement of the early 1990s," Madoff wrote. "After four years and hundreds of millions of dollars of auditing fees he has not produced any evidence to support his claim."

And it is in defense of those fees that Madoff claims that Picard is denying him his share of the credit.

"I can certainly understand his reasons for not acknowledging my role," Madoff wrote. "How could he justify his fees?"

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