Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Madoff asks court to release him

Madoff arriving for Thursday's court hearing
Madoff wants to pass the time before his sentencing in his penthouse.

Disgraced US financier Bernard Madoff has asked a court to free him on bail as he awaits his fate for masterminding a $50bn (35bn) investment fraud.

Last week, Madoff, 70, pleaded guilty to all 11 charges against him when he appeared in a New York court last week

He was remanded to jail until his sentencing in June.

But Madoff's lawyers have argued to a US appeals court he should be released as he had not fled while under house arrest at his Manhattan penthouse.

The three-judge panel said it would make a decision on the request "in due course".

Madoff faces up to 150 years in prison.

Medici closes

Prosecutors are investigating if others were involved in the crime.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Madoff's long-term accountant, David Friehling, with fraud, though Mr Friehling was not accused of knowing or being part of Madoff's scheme.

They are also trying to seize $100m of property and assets, including homes, cars and boats in France, belong to Madoff and his family.

Madoff has always insisted he acted alone in masterminding the Ponzi scheme, whereby early investors were paid off with the money injected by new clients.

MADOFF ASSETS

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On Thursday, Austria's Bank Medici, which held $3.2bn worth of funds invested with Madoff's Ponzi scheme, said it would return its banking licence after it failed to find any buyers.

Most of its income from management fees vanished when the fraud was exposed last year.

Last week, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 charges - four counts of fraud, three counts of money laundering, making false statements, perjury, making a false filing to the US financial watchdog, and theft from an employee benefit plan.

A former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, Madoff had been a Wall Street figure for more than 40 years.

While Madoff said the scheme only started in the early 1990s, prosecutors say it began in the 1980s.



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