01/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

PONZI SCHEME: Madoff Charged With Securities Fraud

Bernard L. Madoff, the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and a fixture of the Wall Street trading world for decades, was arrested Thursday morning by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and charged with criminal securities fraud by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

The criminal complaint filed against Mr. Madoff alleges that he told senior employees Wednesday that his business was "a giant Ponzi scheme," according to a person familiar with the matter. The alleged scheme involved tens of billions of dollars, but the extent of investor losses wasn't immediately clear.

The disclosure came after Mr. Madoff tried to distribute early bonuses to employees of his firm, prompting questions by senior employees, a person familiar with the situation said.

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