Bernard Madoff, the former financier who masterminded the biggest investment fraud in US history, has died aged 82, media reports say.
According to a person who spoke with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, Madoff died at the Federal Medical Centre in Butner, North Carolina, apparently from natural causes.
Over decades, Madoff defrauded thousands of investors while amassing a $65 billion fortune using a Ponzi scheme - a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors.
Madoff began his career as a stock trader in the 1960s and briefly served as chairman of the NASDAQ. Later, he founded the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm, which was incredibly successful until the economic crisis of 2008.
In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies, admitting that he had turned his wealth management business into the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, benefiting himself, his family and select members of his inner circle. He received a 150-year prison sentence.
The US Justice Department set up a fund for his victims and by April 2020 had distributed more than $2.7 billion to nearly 38,000 defrauded investors. In February 2020 Madoff's lawyers sought a "compassionate release," saying that their client suffered from terminal kidney failure and other chronic conditions. The plea for early release was denied.