Madoff: Banks 'had to know' of fraud

Convicted financier Bernard Madoff, in an interview published Wednesday, implied that the banks and hedge funds that invested with him "had to know" of the fraud he perpetrated.

In his first interview since his December 2008 arrest for operating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, Madoff said banks were guilty of having a "willful blindness" toward his operation.

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“They had to know," Madoff told The New York Times. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.' "

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence in North Carolina for running his Ponzi scheme for 16 years and taking in $20 billion in lost cash and $65 billion in paper wealth, according to the Times.

In the interview, Madoff acknowledged his guilt but refused to name specific banks or hedge funds that might have been accomplices. But he said several were "complicit" because they did not do their homework on his scheme.

“I would have loved for them to not lose anything, but that was a risk they were well aware of by investing in the market,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Times.