Will the Madoff case ever really be settled?

The phrases "Bernard L. Madoff", "settled", "Securities and Exchange Commission" and "without admitting or denying and wrongdoing" certainly look odd strung together in one sentence. But that's the news the SEC announced today regarding its civil fraud charges (Madoff had already pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this year).

Truth is, the case against Madoff will never really be settled. Historians will be debating for decades what the SEC knew about Madoff's $65 billion fraud and when it knew it. For instance, why did it ignore for nine years credible reports that the celebrity-schmoozing financier's returns were too good to be true?

The SEC did not mention any of that when it announced a settlement with Madoff, "without admitting or denying any wrongdoing." I'm no lawyer, so I don't understand how Madoff can avoid accepting guilt in the case. After all, he pleaded guilty in March to being the mastermind behind the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Though he'll be barred for life from working in the securities industry, that doesn't mean much to a man already scheduled to be sentenced later this month to 150 years in prison.

For Madoff's many victims, there can be no punishment too severe.

"More than two-thirds of the victims who wrote to the court were retirees or children of retirees who invested with Mr. Madoff more than a decade ago," according to The New York Times. "Many said they had been forced to move in with relatives or look for jobs."

Many are seething with anger over being duped by Madoff for decades.

One California lawyer, Randy Baird, is quoted in the Times urging the court to, "sentence this monster named Madoff to the most severe punishment within your ability."

No matter how many times Madoff apologizes -- and regardless of whether he admits wrongdoing -- there is little that can be done to restore the financial futures of the victims of his scheme.

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