(JTA) — The Madoff Victim Fund began distributing $504 million in funds to victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
The funds, whose distribution began on Thursday, will be sent to over 21,000 Madoff victims around the world, according to a statement by the Justice Department.
The distribution is the second in a series of payments that will eventually return over $4 billion to Madoff victims.
“In one of the most notorious and unconscionable financial crimes in history, Bernie Madoff robbed tens of thousands of individuals, pension plans, charitable organizations and others, all the while funding a lavish personal lifestyle,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement.
“We cannot undo the damage that Bernie Madoff has done, but today’s distribution will provide significant relief to many of the victims of one of the worst frauds of all time,” Sessions added.
Madoff, a Jewish New Yorker, used his position as the chairman of his investment securities company to swindle billions of dollars from tens of thousands of investors from the early 1970s until his arrest in 2008.
The uncovering of the Ponzi scheme revealed the tens of billions of dollars in fake profit that victims believed they had earned through Madoff. Many prominent Jewish nonprofits also suffered big losses, with Yeshiva University taking a $140 million hit, Hadassah $90 million and Elie Wiesel’s foundation losing $15 million.
In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and is serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina. He was also ordered to forfeit nearly $171 billion.