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Appeal filed in Madoff case against Irish bank

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Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff

Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff

Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff

THE trustee of Bernie Madoff's seized assets has appealed a US court ruling made in February that saw a case taken by him against ABN Amro's Irish arm dismissed.

Trustee Irving Picard took a case against ABN Amro Ireland in 2010, seeking $230m (€209m). He also took cases against a number of other banks, claiming the institutions received money transfers from Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities via a range of Madoff feeder funds.

He claimed the banks either knew, or should have known, of the Madoff fraud.

Madoff ran what was the world's largest ever Ponzi scheme, building billions of dollars from well-heeled investors, from movie stars to politicians.

He was sentenced in 2009 to 150 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $170bn in assets.

Mr Picard, a partner with law firm Baker & Hostetler, was appointed by a US court as trustee to oversee efforts to recoup money for investors.

Almost $14bn of the $17.5bn directly lost by Madoff's clients has now been recovered.

When he initiated legal action against ABN Amro Ireland, formerly Fortis Prime Fund Solutions Bank (Ireland), Mr Picard said as trustee that he was seeking to recover what he claimed were "avoidable transfers" from Bernie L Madoff Investment Securities. The trustee claimed that relevant subsequent transfers in the case are traceable to initial transfers from Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities, and that as such, he could recover the subsequent transfers from the defendants.

There were a significant number of legal arguments and hearings in the years after the action was launched by the trustee against the Irish firms.

In January this year, a bankruptcy court in New York ruled that "far from turning a blind eye to Madoff's fraud, Fortis performed due diligence when working on transactions involving Madoff and Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities… and ultimately put its money where its mouth was by investing $470m of its own funds".

"There is always a risk that a broker will be a fraud or become insolvent, and that included Madoff," the court added. "But investing in the face of a known risk or deliberate indifference to that risk is not wilful blindness."

The court ruled that the trustee had "failed to plead that the defendants turned a blind eye to Madoff's fraud".

Madoff, who is now 81 years old, has sought early release from prison in the United States.

Last month, his lawyer asked a New York court to schedule a hearing, where he could make a personal plea by phone for clemency.

Madoff is reportedly suffering from kidney failure and has no more than 18 months to live.

Irish Independent