Jury finds Madoff employees guilty on all counts

George Perez, a computer programmer for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, was one of the five employees found guilty in the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
George Perez, a computer programmer for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, was one of the five employees found guilty in the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - A US jury Monday found five employees of swindler Bernard Madoff guilty of fraud, falsifying records and other offences that enabled the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

The five, who worked for years in account supervision, computer systems and other operations at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, were convicted on 31 counts.

The defendants are Jerome O'Hara, George Perez, Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi.

Charges included conspiracy to commit securities fraud, falsifying records of a broker-dealer and conspiracy to defraud the US.

"These convictions, along with the prior guilty pleas of nine other defendants, demonstrate what we have believed from the earliest stages of the investigation: this largest-ever Ponzi scheme could not have been the work of one person," said US Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted the case.

"These defendants each played an important role in carrying out the charade, propping it up, and concealing it from regulators, auditors, taxing authorities, lenders, and investors." When Madoff was arrested at the end of 2008 after the collapse of his investment group, questions abounded on how many people in his company knew the accounts in the $60 billion fund were largely bogus.

Hundreds of clients, including wealthy individuals and families and prominent charity foundations, reported losses of some $17 billion in principal and tens of billions more in paper profits in the collapse.

Madoff, once a Wall Street star who served as president of the Nasdaq exchange, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for the fraud.

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