SO Bernie Madoff will die in prison even if he lives to be 221, which seems unlikely. His lawyer, who wrote to the judge suggesting that a twelve-year sentence would be appropriate, must be very disappointed. Madoff's frauds justified the judge's description of an “extraordinary evil” and there is no reason why the truth of that should not have been reflected in the maximum possible sentence.

There are several important points arising from the Madoff case. The first is whether, as has been suggested, his willingness to plead guilty on all charges and to express regret at the damage he has done, are actually indications that he is shielding other guilty people not yet identified or charged. The second concerns the gullibility of those who invested all their money with Madoff; persuasive he may have been, but why did they suppose that he was able to produce consistently better results than almost anyone else despite changing market conditions? The third is why well-sourced warnings about Madoff's operation were ignored by US regulatory organisations. And the fourth is why the US is so much better at acting on financial crime than Britain and perhaps most other European countries. No doubt the individual is accorded better rights here than in the US but even when someone is caught in the headlights of Britain's investigative bodies it seems to take an unreasonably long time for them to appear in court - and even then too many cases collapse.


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