Bernard Madoff Struggles to Meet Investor Redemptions

Sometime the first week of December, Madoff tells one of his sons that he's facing $7 billion in redemptions and is having a hard time meeting those obligations.

According to Fortune, Madoff asks his wife Ruth to make two wire transfers from a brokerage account to her personal bank account -- one on Nov. 25 and one on Dec. 10 -- totaling $15.5 million, so they would have cash on hand.

He continues to push hard on Fairfield Greenwich to raise money; the firm starts a massive fundraising campaign for a new fund they name Fairfield Emerald. On Dec. 10, Tucker sends a letter (PDF) to Madoff in which he apologizes for the continued redemptions. "Our firm is very dependent on its relationship with your firm," he writes. "… Our mission is to remain in business with you and keep your trust."

Madoff was keeping up his façade at work. But at home his desperation had begun to show. In November and early December, he asked his wife to make two transfers totaling $15.5 million from a brokerage account to her personal bank account so that the cash would be at hand. Madoff had never made such a request before, two sources say. Ruth has insisted her husband didn't inform her of the fraud until the day before he was arrested. She maintains, according to one of these sources, that Bernie said he needed the cash to pay customer redemptions.

By this point, $15.5 million was a pittance compared with what he needed. As of early December, investors had demanded the return of some $7 billion. If Madoff truly withdrew his wife's money for that purpose, he had reached the point where he was rooting around in the sofa cushions for loose change.