If past fraud cases are a guide, investors rooked by Bernard Madoff will have to wait quite a while to see even a fraction of their initial investments returned, Reuters reports. Court action is notoriously slow, but that’s only half the problem: Recovering money is possible only if it’s there to find. “I think we are talking less than half,” one lawyer said of the anticipated payout.
Madoff declared his finances Wednesday, saying he had as little as $200 million. It is thought that he defrauded investors to the tune of $50 billion. Precedent paints a bleak picture: The Adelphia collapse saw investors recover less than $1 billion of $5.5 billion lost, and the Bayou Group has returned only a quarter of $450 million. “Some of the likely deep pockets are not so deep any more,” the lawyer said.