POLITICS

White House: Madoff Verdict Was Meant To Send A Message

07/30/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The White House weighed in on the sentencing of Bernie Madoff on Monday, saying the hefty 150-years behind bars for the convicted Ponzi scheme artist was meant to serve as a warning to future swindlers and careless investors.

"I saw obviously that the judge wanted to send a very strong signal to anybody that invests money on behalf of others, of the amazing responsibility that they have to their investors and to the country and he used this sentence to send a message," said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "My guess is that that message will be heard loud and clear going forward."

The White House's line was a reflection -- as Gibbs noted -- of the remarks by Judge Denny Chin, who didn't pull any punches when handing down Madoff's punishment.

"Here the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll," Chin said.

The 150-year sentence was the maximum allowed for the 71-year-old Madoff whose elaborate Ponzi scheme was believed to have cost his clients more than $50 billion.

On a separate, but related note, Gibbs was also asked for the White House reaction to the reported rise in executive compensation and bonuses at some of the firms that have received bailout funding, most notably Goldman Sachs.

In a disapproving tone, Gibbs stressed the administration's efforts to search for policy solutions to the problem rather than just talk about the president's personal disappointment in the news.

"Obviously we have appointed [an individual] to look into the compensation practices of banks and lending institutions that have received extraordinary assistance under the TARP program," Gibbs said. "His ability to review the salaries for the top 100 employees and sign off on that salary structure is in the process of beginning, the president and this administration are implementing wide-reaching, far-reaching executive pay reform and I think the president has outlined his views pretty clearly since the administration began."

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