Picard Goes Trans-Atlantic in Pursuit of Madoff Funds

Dec 8 2010 | 2:08pm ET

Irving Picard has crossed the pond in his fight to reclaim billions on behalf of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme victims.

Picard, the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Madoff's firm, is pursuing the directors of Madoff’s London operation—Madoff Securities International Ltd. (MSIL)—in the UK’s High Court of Justice Commercial Court. The joint complaint, filed in conjunction with a UK liquidator, names a number of individuals and entities connected to MSIL, including Madoff’s brother Peter and his sons, Mark and Andrew. Also named is the Austrian banker, Sonja Kohn.

The trustee is asking for $80 million, charging that the MSIL directors and officers with breach of duty for approving fraudulent payments, including payments for a yacht, a luxury car and a home in the south of France enjoyed by Madoff and his family.

The lawsuit also charges that over $27 million was channeled through MSIL to Kohn.

The trustee says his investigations show that from the time MSIL was incorporated in 1983 until Madoff’s arrest in December 2008, at least $600 million was paid into MSIL from Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities (BLMIS) and other sources controlled by Madoff. Payments were made from MSIL to Madoff, his family, Kohn and other parties. More than $310 million was transferred from BLMIS to MSIL then back to BLMIS with the transactions falsely recorded as trading commissions from London.

The lawsuit is the latest in a flurry of actions filed by Picard as the December 11 deadline for filing “clawback” suits related to the Madoff scheme (and the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest) approaches.

Picard has recovered about $2 billion to date of the estimated $20 billion lost by victims of Madoff’s fraud.

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