The widow of a Florida philanthropist who had been the single-largest
beneficiary of Bernard Madoff’s colossal Ponzi scheme has agreed to
return $7.2 billion in bogus profits to the victims of the fraud, she
and authorities announced Friday. “We will return every penny received from almost 35 years of investing
with Bernard Madoff,” Picower’s wife, Barbara, said in a written
statement. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the settlement a “game changer” for Madoff’s victims. “Barbara Picower has done the right thing,” Mr. Bharara said.

That money was supposedly made on stock trades, but authorities said that in reality it was simply stolen from other investors. Picower’s
lawyers claimed he knew nothing about the scheme, but court-appointed
trustee Irving Picard had argued in court papers that he must have known
that the returns were “implausibly high” and based on fraud.

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