The trustee in the Bernard Madoff case has warned that, under a ruling favoring the owners of the New York Mets, the Ponzi schemer's family could be allowed to keep tens of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled last month that Irving Picard can only file clawback lawsuits for phony profits withdrawn in the two years prior to Madoff's December 2008 arrest. But under that ruling, Madoff's own family members will be able to keep about $82 million of the $141 million in "other investors' money" that they withdrew over the past six years.
Picard made the claim in a reply to Rakoff in a different case, dealing with Madoff investor James Greiff. The judge asked Picard why Greiff shouldn't be allowed to keep money he withdrew "in good faith."
"Hiding behind the veil of 'innocent investor,' Greiff aims to keep money he now knows was stolen from other investors," Picard wrote. He argued that securities trades should not be protected from clawbacks.
If Rakoff rules against him, Picard warns that the Madoff family and Madoff feeder fund manager J. Ezra Merkin will be among the biggest beneficiaries.
"Peter Madoff," the con-man's brother, "maintained at least two BLMIS accounts, for which he invested $32,146—including a grand total of only $14 after December 1995—yet he redeemed $16,252,004." As for Merkin, "a sophisticated investment manager who was a close business and social associate of Madoff," he would get to keep some $180 million of the more than $500 million Picard is seeking.