Bernie Madoff's victims will start to see some monetary relief soon.
The Department of Justice announced Thursday that an initial distribution had begun to more than 24,000 victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, called the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
"We have recovered billions of dollars from third parties – not Mr. Madoff – and are now returning that money to tens of thousands of victims," Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.
Rosenstein called the distribution the largest restoration of property ever.
The initial distribution includes $772.5 million, only a fraction of the more than $4 billion in assets that were recovered for the victims in total, according to a press release issued today.
Madoff used his position as the chairman of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities to swindle billions of dollars from tens of thousands of people over the course of more than four decades between the early 1970s and his 2008 arrest.
On March 12, 2009, Madoff pled guilty to 11 federal felonies and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. He was also ordered to forfeit $170,799,000,000.
Of the $4 billion that will be distributed to victims of the scheme, more than half came from the estate of Jeffry Picower, a Madoff investor who reportedly profited more than Madoff from the Ponzi scheme and was later sued by Madoff investors.
Another $1.7 billion was collected as part of an agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, according to the Justice Department's release. The bank was fined under the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires banks to notify law enforcement of suspicious activity.