U.S. authorities on Wednesday arrested the longtime accountant for Bernard Madoff, who pleaded guilty last week to running a massive Ponzi scheme.
David Friehling, 49, is charged with securities fraud, aiding and abetting investment adviser fraud, and four counts of filing false audit statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
If convicted, Friehling could face up to 105 year behind bars.
From 1991 to 2008, Friehling served as Madoff's auditor. Friehling was the sole accounting practitioner at his firm Friehling and Horowitz in the New York City area, and experts in the field have questioned his ability to audit Madoff's big activities.
Friehling is the first person aside from Madoff himself to be arrested in connection with the fraud.
Lev Dassin, acting U.S. attorney, said Friehling is not charged with knowing about the Ponzi scheme.
"Mr. Friehling's deception helped foster the illusion that Mr. Madoff legitimately invested his clients' money," Dassin said.
In its own complaint, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that all of the audit reports were materially false because Friehling and his firm did not perform a "meaningful" audit of Madoff's operations, and did not confirm that the securities Madoff purportedly held on behalf of his 4,800 investors even existed.
"Instead, the SEC alleges that Friehling merely pretended to conduct minimal audit procedures of certain accounts to make it seem like he was conducting an audit, and then failed to document his purported findings and conclusions," the SEC said in a statement.