Madoff victims get back $534 million, trustee says
More than $534 million has been paid to 1,368 victims of Bernard Madoff through the national fund that insures against failed brokerage firms, according to Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to recover assets for investors with the convicted swindler.
In a call with reporters today, Picard said he has so far identified allowable claims totaling $4.43 billion and is still processing thousands of claims filed by alleged victims. To date, he has identified 2,335 investment accounts with net losses of $21.2 billion with Madoff.
Picard said his staff has found 2,568 investors who withdrew more money from Madoff accounts than they originally invested. Those investors are vulnerable to so-called clawbacks -- demands that they return some of the money they made. Picard said he has recovered $1.4 billion so far and expects to file more lawsuits to force the return money some investors unknowingly made at the expense of others.
"There definitely will be further lawsuits,'' he said. But he said his office would not go after people with serious medical conditions or those at risk of losing their homes. "We're not going to be suing people who don't have money,'' Picard said.
Picard called the death of philanthropist Jeffry Picower -- who suffered a heart attack in swimming his pool over the weekend -- "tragic."
"No one would have expected that," he said. Still, his office plans to press ahead with litigation to reclaim some of the $7.2 billion Picower allegedly withdrew from Madoff accounts. No other investor, possibly even Madoff, profited so much from the Ponzi scheme, Picard said.
The $534 million paid out so far to victims is more than the insurance fund, the Securities Investor Protection Corp., has paid out in all of its 321 prior liquidations combined, according to the corporation's chief executive, Stephen Harbeck. The fund was established by Congress in 1970.