Fla. Republican pushes Justice Department to pay Bernie Madoff's victims

Fla. Republican pushes Justice Department to pay Bernie Madoff's victims
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A Republican congressman from Florida is pushing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to start paying the victims of Bernie Madoff’s multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme some of the money that has been recovered.

Rep. Vern Buchanan claims in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Laura Ingraham: Migrant child detention centers 'essentially summer camps' Senate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' MORE on Wednesday that victims have yet to receive a penny from the $4 billion victim fund that was created in 2012.

“It is outrageous that victims languish in hardship while government-sanctioned administrators collect millions in fees," Buchanan said.

Bloomberg News reported last week that RCB Fund Services LLC, the company tapped to administer the Madoff victim funds, has received $38.8 million in billings over four years while victims are still waiting for their first checks.

The firm said on the Madoff Victim Fund website in January it was "unable to initiate our first payout in 2016 as we had hoped because of the volume and complexity of claims."

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Buchanan in his letter on Wednesday cited the Miami Herald, which reported that one in five of Madoff’s victims hailed from his home state.

“These victims, many of whom are from Sarasota and Southwest Florida, are being victimized twice," he said. "They were cheated out of their life savings and now they're being denied timely compensation from a fund that was specifically set up to help them."

Buchanan wants to know why it's taking so long to distribute the funds and what steps DOJ is taking to ensure the firm distributes the repayments.

“I urge you to do all you can to expedite payment to these victims,” he said. “Money should be flowing to victims, not bureaucratic overhead.”

Earlier this month, HBO released a movie about Madoff’s confession and arrest in 2008. “The Wizard of Lies” stars Robert De Niro as Madoff.

--This report was updated at 11:18 a.m.