November 29, 2010

Trustee for Madoff’s Victims Files 40 Lawsuits

Irving Picard sues family, banks as filing deadline nears

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The trustee seeking to recover money for victims of convicted money manager Bernard Madoff said he filed 40 lawsuits on Friday, including several against relatives of the jailed con man.

Associated Press reports 22 of the lawsuits were filed against relatives of Madoff and his wife, trustee Irving Picard said in a news release. Eighteen lawsuits were filed against former employees of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, he said.

The latest flurry of lawsuit filings was made as the Dec. 11 deadline for filing looms.

Picard said his firm is seeking about $69 million in funds deposited by the company's customers and stolen in the 72-year-old's vast Ponzi scheme.

According to the wire service, Picard said the lawsuits were filed as part of an effort to recover funds from relatives and employees "who were closest to the center of the fraud and who were, in many cases, among those who benefited most from the Ponzi scheme."

Among the complaints, Madoff's sister, Sondra Weiner, is accused of having "profited for decades" from the scheme, Picard said.

Picard said the lawsuits were filed after discussions with the defendants and their attorneys collapsed. Other complaints were previously filed against relatives of Madoff and senior BLMIS employees, according to AP.

The fresh batch of lawsuits comes three days after Picard announced a lawsuit against Swiss bank UBS AG, alleging it funneled clients to Madoff and then "looked the other way." The bank called the allegation "completely unfounded."

UBS and its affiliates, "enabled Madoff's Ponzi scheme through numerous international feeder funds," alleged Picard. He claims the companies were liable for at least $2 billion of Madoff's fraud.

Also named in the lawsuit are late French financier Thierry de la Villehuchet, who killed himself some two years ago at the time of Madoff's arrest, and his associates at AIA.

As AP notes, Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison in North Carolina after confessing to the nearly two-decade scheme that ensnared thousands of victims, including charities, celebrities and institutional investors.

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