February 10, 2009

Judge makes Madoff injunctions permanent

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said a partial judgment in New York begins to cement the case against accused trader Bernard Madoff.

A judgment signed by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton means Madoff, accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, cannot contest the basic facts of the case against him, the SEC said, USA Today reported Tuesday.

The judgment also changes the status of a temporary freeze of Madoff's assets to a permanent one.

The fact that his attorneys have consented to anything at this juncture suggests to me that there has been progress in criminal plea bargain discussions, said Columbia University law Professor John Coffee. Rationally, you do not agree to a consent judgment ... unless there is some quid pro quo, Coffee said.

The judgment doesn't include an admission of guilt nor does it affect the federal prosecution of the case. But, it allows the SEC to move forward, said former U.S. Justice Department official Joshua Hochberg.

Now they can let the criminal prosecutors handle the tougher task of finding out if there were co-conspirators and where the money went, Hochberg told USA Today.