Madoff Banker Denies Wrongdoing In London Trial

Jul 11 2013 | 11:30am ET

Bernard Madoff's Austrian banker has denied that she had a "clandestine" agreement with the arch-fraudster to introduce him to wealthy investors.

Sonja Kohn, whom Madoff's U.S. receiver called his "criminal soul mate," and Madoff sought to disguise payments she received for the introductions as payments for research, the liquidator of Madoff's U.K. business alleged. Kohn took the stand in London yesterday to defend herself against civil claims brought by the liquidator, Grant Thornton.

"There has not been a private agreement with me and Mr. Madoff," Kohn said. And she said it should have been "obvious" to the directors of Madoff Securities International that the payments were not for research.

"None of [the press reports] spoke of me like an analyst or a research guy," she said. Rather, they focused on her many connections.

Grant Thornton claims that Kohn knew the US$27 million she allegedly received from Madoff was improper, and said the research she provided had no value and was plagiarized.

"You and Madoff knew that something had to be delivered to London and this had to be done in the cheapest possible way," Pushpinder Saini, a lawyer for Grant Thornton, said.

"I disagree with your suggestion," Kohn replied, adding, "I would be very disappointed if the people who did the research did that. I was not aware of it." According to Grant Thornton, more than 60% of a sample of research from Kohn was plagiarized.

While proclaiming her innocence—the liquidators do not allege that she knew of Madoff's fraud—Kohn did express one regret.

"Perhaps in hindsight it would have been better to have invoices which were much more detailed."

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