It was a good day for Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee for Bernard Madoff’s investment fund. He has been attempting to claw back some of the money stolen by Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and today won up to $500 million from Swiss bank Union Bancaire Privée (UBP). The settlement agreement is the largest one yet in the Madoff case.
The settlement brings the trustee’s total recoveries to date to $2 billion. Picard says the $500 million settlement represents “a good faith, complete, and total compromise between the parties” given that he would have sued for $1 billion.
“The UBP settlement agreement is the largest feeder fund bank cash settlement to date and the first major international bank settlement, two important milestones for the overall recovery initiative,” said Picard.
A court document filed by Picard as part of the settlement shows he’s been in negotiations with UBP since 2009. UBP had fed Madoff’s bogus investment firm through its Caymans-based M-Invest feeder fund and an external feeder fund firm, Fairfield Greenwich. UBP denies any wrongdoing in the case.
Picard has filed a flurry of lawsuits in the past few weeks in a race against the December 11 deadline for filing (that date marks the two-year anniversary of Madoff’s arrest for the $65 billion Ponzi scheme).
The UBP settlement may send a chill up the spines of Picard’s other targets—including JPMorgan Chase, from which he’s seeking $6.4 billion; and HSBC, from which he’s seeking $9 billion. Both banks stand accused of aiding and abetting Madoff in his fraud.
The Madoff Ponzi scheme is believed to have cost investors more than $20 billion. Madoff himself is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the fraud.