NEW YORK (Reuters) - A coalition of lawyers called for a new international forum on Monday to handle legal issues spurred by the purported $50 billion fraud of once-respected Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff.
Known as the Madoff Case Global Alliance of Law Firms, the group is pushing for the creation of an International Financial Court to handle Madoff-related and other complex financial services litigation.
The group, made up of law firms involved in Madoff-related civil litigation, said they hoped the idea would be discussed by leaders of the Group of 20 developed and emerging market nations at a summit in London next month.
“We just want to present the idea and ask the governments to take it up for discussion,” Javier Cremades, chairman of the newly formed coalition, told reporters in New York without providing many specifics.
Coalition lawyers said at a news conference that they wanted to float the proposal to various countries and get their reactions.
Cremades, of Spanish law firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo, said the global dimensions of the Madoff case — involving investors in the United States, Europe, South America, Israel and elsewhere — shows the need for an international forum to help resolve disputes in the financial services industry.
Cremades’ firm has sued Spanish bank Santander in a U.S. federal court in Florida for customer losses linked to the alleged Madoff fraud. There have been questions in that case as to whether a U.S. court has the power to hear the lawsuit.
Cremades said he planned to meet this week with the new chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, among other U.S. government officials, to discuss the idea.
The coalition was formed last month. More than 45 law firms are participating, representing more than 10,000 investors, said Gaytri Kachroo, a partner at U.S. law firm McCarter & English LLP in Boston and a coalition member.
Madoff was charged with fraud in December for running a long-standing Ponzi scheme in which money deposited by newer investors is used to pay earlier ones. He is expected to plead guilty to multiple criminal counts at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday.
Reporting by Martha Graybow, editing by Leslie Gevirtz