Friday, February 21, 2014


This story first appeared in USA Today.

NEW YORK – A day and a half of prosecution questioning appeared to make few major dents in claims by Bernard Madoff's former operations director that he didn't know about the financier's massive Ponzi scheme and wasn't involved in the crime.

Under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson Thursday, Daniel Bonventre acknowledged he had some oversight responsibility for the JPMorgan Chase account that held the flow of millions of dollars clients invested with Madoff.

Bonventre also conceded that he gave another Madoff employee instructions about investing extra cash in the account. And he admitted using a company-paid American Express card to charge tens of thousands of dollars in family vacation trips to the Caribbean and elsewhere, along with non-business restaurant expenses.

But, responding calmly and quietly to the rising incredulity clear in Jackson's voice, Bonventre testified he spotted no signs during his 40-year career with Madoff that his boss was running a scam "right under your nose."

"You never saw anything that raised any red flags?" asked Jackson.

"That's correct," said Bonventre.

The 67-year-old Manhattan resident and four former co-workers are standing trial on charges they knowingly participated in and profited from the fraud Madoff used to steal as much as $20 billion from thousands of average investors, charities, celebrities, financial funds and other victims.
Bonventre's surprise decision to testify in his own defense exposed him to cross-examination, a legal risk because the prosecution questioning could spotlight evidence that raises questions about his innocence claim. But Bonventre so far has not been shaken from his contention that Madoff always had plausible answers for any questions about his investment business.

Bonventre testified he only learned the truth on Dec. 11, 2008, the day Madoff was arrested. The trial is the first criminal proceeding being heard by a jury because Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 without standing trial. He's now serving a 150-year prison term.

Bonventre's cross-examination is expected to conclude Monday. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said closing prosecution and defense arguments in the trial, which began in October, could start around March 3.

No comments:

Post a Comment