'For more than 30 years, Bernard Madoff ran a multibillion- dollar fraud that turned out to be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history', Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz said.
Reuters reports that the defendants - a director of operations of Madoff's office, two computer programmers and two portfolio managers - are accused of creating false records and transactions to fool investors and regulators.
They have pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges, including securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud Madoff's clients.
'These are the people who helped him do it', Schwartz said as he made opening arguments for the prosecution in a packed ceremonial courtroom, used for major trials.
Investors lost about $19bn in the scheme, which Madoff's firm valued as high as $65bn, Schwartz said. Madoff, 75, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2009.
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image: © Clyde Robinson