* $50.9 million payment OK'd to Baker & Hostetler
* Trustee on verge of multi-billion dollar recovery
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, May 6 A law firm employing the
trustee winding down Bernard Madoff's investment firm has won
court approval to be paid $20.3 million of additional fees,
pushing its total to $50.9 million for 13-1/2 months of work.
In an order made public on Thursday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge
Burton Lifland in Manhattan authorized the additional payment
to Baker & Hostetler LLP, plus reimbursement of $390,200 of
expenses, covering the Oct. 1, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010 period.
Baker & Hostetler has been awarded $59.8 million of fees
overall, but is deferring 15 percent, or $9 million, until the
liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC is
complete, court records show.
Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee and a Baker &
Hostetler partner, has been trying to recover assets for
victims of Madoff and his estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
He has separately been awarded $1.93 million in fees.
Lifland's order came over the objections of some Madoff
victims. They believe Picard either undervalues some claims,
allows claims to be paid too slowly, or has a conflict of
interest because he also represents the interests of the
Securities Investor Protection Corp against the victims.
The SIPC is a federally-chartered agency that supervises
the liquidation of brokerages. Federal law limits SIPC
protection to $500,000.
Through Jan. 31, the payment of more than $57.6 million of
fees to lawyers and consultants involved in liquidating
Madoff's firm has been authorized. Many agreed to accept a 10
percent or greater discount from their normal billing rates.
In its filing requesting the latest payment, Baker &
Hostetler said it conducted more than 64,739 hours of work on
behalf of Picard in the four months ended Jan. 31, 2010.
David Sheehan, a partner, maintained that no document
"could comprehensively set forth all of the tasks engaged in by
the trustee and Baker & Hostetler since their appointment" on
Dec. 15, 2008, four days after Madoff's arrest.
Through April 30, Picard has reviewed 12,453 claims of
alleged victims, and allowed 2,061 totaling $5.39 billion,
according to the website ((www.madofftrustee.com)).
Picard has said he has recovered some $1.5 billion of
assets for Madoff victims.
A Monday court filing said he is "on the verge" of
recovering a "multibillion-dollar sum" from the estate of
Florida philanthropist Jeffry Picower, who died in October.
Madoff turned 72 last week. He is serving a 150-year
sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.
The case is In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities
LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Grant
McCool, editing by Bernard Orr)