American investment fraudster Bernie Madoff, the man responsible for the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, has said he does not owe any specific debt to the Jewish people for his crimes.
Mr Madoff, who is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence in the United States for defrauding his clients of billions of dollars, told online website Politico that he did not feel he “betrayed the Jews”.
Speaking from prison in North Carolina, the 70-year-old said: “I don’t feel any worse for a Jewish person than I do for a Catholic person. Religion had nothing to do with it.”
Before pleading guilty to fraud in 2009, the conman was a well-known philanthropic figure in New York’s Jewish community. He is said to have abused his Jewish connections to defraud charities, investors and organisations of millions – including Hadassah, Yeshiva University and the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem.
But Mr Madoff said that he did not betray Jews, but rather “betrayed people".
He said: "I betrayed people that put trust in me – certainly the Jewish community. I’ve made more money for Jewish people and charities than I’ve lost.”
Mr Madoff added that he no longer had “anything to live for”, having been disinherited by his family following his conviction. He said: “The thing that was important to me was family, but that’s all gone.
“That’s more punishment than being incarcerated.”