Madoff victims get first payments from recovered $4 billion

Some $4 billion has been recovered

The U.S. Justice Department started a long-delayed distribution to victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, tapping a $4 billion fund created through settlements with some of the con man’s oldest customers and his bank, JPMorgan Chase.

The Madoff Victim Fund will return $772.5 million to more than 24,000 victims worldwide, the first in a series of distributions. The payouts eventually will become the largest of forfeited funds in the history of the Justice Department’s victim-compensation program, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

Almost nine years after Madoff’s arrest, investors still are trying to recover money from a fraud that erased $17.5 billion in principal and more than $40 billion in fake profits that victims believed was held in their accounts.

Some have recovered more than $10 billion from another fund overseen in bankruptcy court through a separate process.

The administrator of the fund, Richard Breeden, said in June that the Justice Department had approved more than 35,000 petitions claiming total losses of more than $6.5 billion.

He met a target for issuing distributions by the end of the year. A similar deadline for the end of 2016 was missed.

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