NEW YORK (Reuters) – A court-appointed trustee has located more than $1 billion of jailed swindler Bernard Madoff’s assets, his house in France could be seized and US prosecutors are cooperating with a British agency that investigates organized crime, a court heard yesterday.
Assistant US Attorney Barbara Ward made the reference to the British-based Serious Organised Crime Agency in a hearing in the civil case against Madoff in Manhattan federal court, but it was not further explained.
A spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined comment.
Former Nasdaq stock market chairman and investment adviser Madoff pleaded guilty on March 12 to 11 criminal charges, including money laundering, in running the biggest fraud in Wall Street history. The fraud took in as much as $65 billion over 20 years. Madoff was jailed pending sentencing in June.
Madoff, 70, admitted moving hundreds of millions of dollars back and forth between his New York firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and his international arm based in London.
Ward told Judge Louis Stanton in US District Court in Manhattan that her office was working with the serious fraud office in London and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which works on financial cases to counter money laundering.
“There may be criminal implications,” the prosecutor said in arguments over whether a court-appointed trustee should have power of attorney over stock of the London firm, which was listed as a personal asset of Madoff’s.
The judge did not immediately make a ruling on the issue.
The court heard that the trustee, Irving Picard, had located $75 million in Gibraltar, bringing the total amount of assets found to distribute to his defrauded customers to more than $1 billion. Picard announced in February that he had found $946.4 million.
Picard’s lawyer David Sheehan told the hearing that he expected “the French will grab” the Madoff house in France. Madoff and his wife owned four properties, three in the United States.
Sheehan said the trustee needed the power of attorney to go into foreign jurisdictions “at a moments notice” as he goes about his work of trying to recover as much money as possible for the swindler’s former customers.
The prosecutor argued that it was too soon in the investigation to give the trustee power of attorney over the London firm’s stock.
The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Madoff et al 08-10791 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).