At least 1,000 lawsuits filed in the hope of recovering more than $50 billion for the victims of Bernie Madoff’s massive swindle can now proceed, since the deadline for filing suits has passed. The deadline was Saturday, the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest for running what is thought to be the worst investment fraud in the history of the country, a Ponzi scheme that bilked billions of dollars from thousands of clients. It was also the day that Madoff’s elder son, Mark Madoff, was found hanged in his SoHo home in an apparent suicide.
According to a report in The Boston Globe, David Sheehan, attorney for the trustee charged with recovering assets, Irving H. Picard, said he expected many of the suits to be settled before coming to trial. Mark Madoff’s suicide would not affect the suits against him or his younger brother Andrew, said Sheehan, nor would it affect suits against other relatives. Sheehan said that most of the suits had been filed in bankruptcy court within the past three weeks, and that he was getting ready for a siege of challenges against them.
On Friday Picard filed a $900 million suit against two accountants, and a civil racketeering case against offshore bankers that alleges they helped Madoff perpetrate financial devastation on his victims. Madoff is currently serving a 150-year sentence for his crimes; although he claims to have acted alone, the Friday suits sparked speculation that Picard may be looking farther afield for accomplices.
Despite the fact that the initial deadline has passed, Picard may still file additional suits, said Sheehan. Picard has one more year in which to trace the money he intends to recover from the list of defendants in the suits. He can file complaints against anyone to whom the money may have been transferred.