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Ruth Madoff forfeits asset claims

The wife of epic swindler Bernard Madoff will be left with $2.5 million after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors

Ruth Madoff, the wife of epic swindler Bernard Madoff who reaped billions and a lavish family lifestyle, will be left with $2.5 million and have to look for a new home as she forfeits claim to $80m in assets. Documents filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday night showed that Mrs Madoff, 68, who has said nothing in public about her jailed husband's crimes in the six months since his arrest, had come to an agreement with US prosecutors.

"In compromise of claims Ruth Madoff would have pursued, the Office (US Attorney) will not contest claim to a sum of money equal to $2,500,000, which sum the Office shall cause to be tendered to Ruth Madoff promptly after she vacates the real property and surrenders all personal property," the court order said. Mrs Madoff has not been charged with any crimes but she has been widely vilified by defrauded investors, shunned by people she once knew and pursued by the New York press. Under the agreement she could still be liable to civil claims.

Her 71-year-old husband will be sentenced in Manhattan federal court on Monday and is likely facing the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty in March to criminal charges of running Wall Street's biggest investment scheme. He has not named any accomplices and only his outside accountant has been charged, but few believe he acted alone. In an agreement with US prosecutors approved by US District Judge Denny Chin on Friday night, Madoff forfeited all rights to assets totalling $170 billion, the amount prosecutors said flowed through the principal account of his decades-long fraud.

The properties to be sold include the couple's $7m apartment and primary residence in Manhattan, an $11m house in Palm Beach, Florida and a $3m home in Montauk on New York's Long Island. Other assets listed include expensive boats and cars. In court papers filed earlier this year, Madoff's lawyer had asked the government to allow his wife to keep almost $70m in assets that were in her name, arguing they were not connected to the fraud.

At the time, she held $45m in municipal bonds and $17m in a bank account. She also withdrew $15.5m in the weeks before her husband's Dec 11 arrest. The documents agreeing to the sales were signed by lawyers for the Madoffs. The Florida property and several vessels have already been seized by the United States Marshals Service. Proceeds from asset sales will be distributed to defrauded investors. *Reuters