Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another day, another $2 billion lost through Madoff

The news will come as little comfort to the hundreds of investors who have lost money at the hands of Mr Madoff's fund, with new victims coming forward by the hour, including Austrian private bank Medici, with a £1.3bn exposure.

Stephen Harbeck, president of the US Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), said: "There are some assets, but I have no idea what the relationships of the assets available are to the claims against them. The records are utterly unreliable on this case." The SIPC is an industry-funded body designed to protect clients when brokerages collapse, and on Monday appointed a trustee, through the courts, to return cash and shares to clients of Mr Madoff's broker-dealer which is now in the process of being liquidated.

Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it must account for why it failed to stop Mr Madoff's "Ponzi scheme" in its tracks.

Mr Madoff's investment advisory arm was never inspected by the SEC, despite numerous tip-offs. But former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt, who ran the regulator from 1993-2001, told the New York Post: "At this point, I don't see any evidence that the SEC dropped the ball."

American law firms are already contacting European investors in funds invested with Madoff.
A New York judge has given Mr Madoff until 2pm today to meet his bail conditions, after failing to get three co-signatories to guarantee his $10m bond, which is also secured against his Manhattan penthouse.

Mr Madoff, who has been ordered to surrender his passport, faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5m if convicted. He is fighting the charges, which came after his two sons allegedly told investigators he had confessed to the fraud.

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