I can think of at least three incidents in my own life where I was a victim of white collar crime. One case was after buying tickets to travel to New Zealand my husband and I learned that the travel agency we used in Los Angeles had bilked not only us but at least a hundred others of tickets they thought they had purchased. The agency's owners took the money, our money, and ran. We were furious. Seeking to apply restorative justice to this crime after much research I found that the state attorney general's office was in hot pursuit of the guilty parties. The result was not what we hoped. We were told that we would be able to collect approximately 80% of what we had paid out for the tickets. What did we want? We wanted a full refund of what we had paid for our airline tickets. But I also wanted an acknowledgement by the culprit that he had remorse for what he had done. We were bilked and we had our dream trip to New Zealand ruined. This is what I wanted as a victim.
We all have stories where we have been victimized. What do we want ? A pound of flesh? Maybe, or at least initially that could be our response. But I think what we would all agree, especially in cases of white collar/corporate crimes, is that we want to be restored. We want restitution and hopefully even an apology. What about in the case of Madoff?
As we know now his sentence is 150 years, and he has decided not to appeal. The man is 70 years old. The judge stated that Madoff was "evil", or he personified evil, and his sentence therefore would reflect the seriousness of the crimes and the decades of systemic fraud. In court, Madoff did show remorse at least at time of sentencing. Would that be enough? I'd say no. Take a look at this article, an Associated Press piece reprinted at Tampa Bay Online. Many would perhaps think that most of the victims of Madoff's fraud schemes were upper end wealthy New York financiers or stock holders themselves but that is not the case. Surely there were some who fit that bill. Yet as we are learning now there are hundreds or thousands of regular, average folks who invested in Madoff through what they call "feeder funds" or in essence indirect investing. These individuals were investing their life saving, their 401 (K) accounts and their IRA through those they trusted as their "money managers'. And they lost.
The article on Tampa Bay Online tells the story of Jack Cutter, an 80 year old retiree in Longmont, Colorado. He was a retired engineer who because of Madoff lost his retirement savings. Cutter  is now working in the meat department of a local supermarket in Longmont and getting paid $8.64 an hour. He has no choice. When you read the stories closely these are horrific accounts of average Americans losing virtually everything they had because of Madoff's ponzi scheme. Where does the legal system leave them today? The story mentions that many will get paid restitution but how many victims will be fully compensated is at question. 
Apparently, there 's a catch. If you were a victim of fraud, through Bernard Madoff, but were victimized "indirectly" through your money manager investing  your monies via these feeder funds then you seem to be ineligible for restitution. It's been called a technical loophole. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation, SIPC, is an industry funded group which will make payments to the victims defrauded by Madoff.
But legislation is needed to guarantee all victims receive compensation even those, at the bottom rungs, who invested indirectly. Without the change in legislation these individuals will not receive a payment from the SIPC of $500,000. Complicated for sure. I am sure the story will get even more complicated in the months ahead.
But if restorative justice were applied in this case we would work to guarantee, as much as possible, that all those who were victimized receive restitution. I would say they should receive full restitution. To date the documented cash loss in the Madoff fraud scheme is $ 1 billion, according to a bankruptcy trustee overseeing the claims process. Madoff's assets are listed currently at $171 billion, without adding in the assets of his wife Ruth Madoff. All victims should receive their compensation. It might take many years but that is justice. Given the enormity of this fraud in the annals of U.S. corporate fraud where does the federal government come into play? Shouldn't the feds be involved to guarantee restitution is paid and that all those who are responsible, including associates of Bernard Madoff, also be held accountable? I think so.
If legislation has not been drafted to change the loophole in the law mentioned above, as it relates to the SPIC, it should be. Apart from an "industry funded group" like the SPIC, there should be some kind of securities investor protection provided by the federal government. At the very least Congress should investigate this securities fraud case and take a fresh look at the rights of customers who make investments. Should restorative justice be applied to white collar crime/corporate crime? Absolutely. No white collar criminal should ever walk away from his crimes with a slap on the wrist. But a long prison sentence is not in and of itself a sentence that provides justice to the victims.