Madoff trustee files claims against accountants

NEW YORK Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:31pm EST

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NEW YORK Dec 10 (Reuters) - The court-appointed trustee seeking to recoup money for victims of Bernard Madoff on Friday said he filed complaints against accountants Frank Avellino and Michael Bienes and their respective families in hopes of recovering more than $900 million.

Irving Picard, the trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), filed complaints against the accountants describing them as among the "earliest enablers" of Madoff by operating BLMIS's first feeder fund -- a partnership known as Avellino & Bienes.

Picard said in the statement the fund "not only fueled the initial growth of the Ponzi scheme, but also helped sustain it for years."

Madoff, 72, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting to orchestrating a worldwide fraud of about $65 billion.

So far, Picard and his team of lawyers have recovered about $2.6 billion. [IDnNO7292782]. They have also filed complaints seeking billions of dollars from several major U.S. and European banks whom Picard claims also helped enable the fraud.

The recovered money will be distributed to victims of the decades-long multibillion dollar fraud that shook confidence in securities regulators when it was revealed two years ago on Dec. 11, 2008 and Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC collapsed.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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