FRANKFURT Jan 18 Investors who lost money in a
Ponzi scheme run by Helmut Kiener, convicted founder of the K1
hedge fund in Germany, are suing Barclays Plc for
selling his products to them, their lawyers said on Friday.
The lawyers said they were seeking a total of around 100
million euros ($133.58 million) in damages and had lodged more
than 100 suits against Barclays with regional courts in
Frankfurt and Munich over warrants issued by the bank that were
linked to Kiener portfolios.
Kiener, dubbed a German "mini Madoff" by the media in
reference to the jailed U.S. fraudster, was sentenced in July
2011 to more than 10 years in prison for a scam that prosecutors
said cost investors 345 million euros.
The lawyers, who said they represent more than 1,000
claimants, have also moved to bundle the claims into a class
"We are confident the Frankfurt court will initiate the
class-action case within six months," said Andreas Tilp, one of
the lawyers from the ProtectInvest Alliance (PIA), which
respresents the plaintiffs.
The Munich and Frankfurt regional courts confirmed that the
PIA had filed claims against Barclays in December.
"It was a large number of suits," a spokesman for the
Frankfurt court said. He confirmed the request to start a
class-action suit but declined to give further details.
A spokesman for Barclays said the bank would vigorously
defend itself in the case.
"Barclays continues to believe the Kiener-related claims are
wholly without merit," he said.
"German courts have found in Barclays' favour in all
decisions to date and there has been recognition that Barclays
is also a victim of the Kiener fraud," he said.
Kiener was arrested in October 2009 as authorities said
Barclays and BNP Paribas may have lost millions of
dollars in the case, which spanned the Atlantic and featured
lavish personal spending on planes, a helicopter and luxury
The court sentenced Kiener on 86 counts of falsification of
documents, and 10 counts of fraud and tax evasion.
The judge in the case said at the time that the banks made
it easy for Kiener to keep up his Ponzi scheme, which was seen
as a mitigating circumstance in the trial.