Disgraced financier dies in prison — Bernie Madoff

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Bernie Madoff, the disgraced former financier who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died of natural causes in a United States federal prison, USA media reported.

It collapsed during the financial crisis of 2008.

He confessed the problem to his sons, who went to the authorities. Other corporate victims were Royal Bank of Scotland and Man Group and Japan's Nomura Holdings.

A pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme is a form of fraud in which returns on investments are generated only by bringing in fresh investments from new victims.

School teachers, farmers, mechanics and many others have also lost money.

"We thought he was God".

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In court, Mr Madoff said when he started the scheme in the 1990s, he hoped it would only be for a limited time.

According to the Associated Press, Madoff was a former chairman of Nasdaq, and his facade of a "Midas touch" attracted high-profile clients like director Stephen Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and baseball Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax - some of whom never recovered the funds they gave to Madoff. In an interview with The Washington Post he said he had "made a awful mistake".

"When I began the Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from this scheme", Madoff told the judge at his plea hearing. "There's no cure for my type of disease".

"You know, there hasn't been a day in prison that I haven't felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family", he said.

"I've served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I've suffered through it", Madoff told the paper in an interview. His request was ultimately denied.

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