May 10, 2011 / 12:52 PM / 8 years ago

Madoff trustee sues Safra bank for $111.7 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The trustee seeking money for Bernard Madoff’s victims has sued Safra National Bank of New York to recover $111.7 million derived from investments by “feeder” funds in the Ponzi schemer’s former investment firm.

Irving Picard, the trustee, said Safra knew or should have known of “numerous irregularities” concerning investments with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, given its background and its own investments in that firm.

Feeder funds funneled customer money to Madoff by opening direct accounts with his firm. Picard is trying to recover money he said was subsequently moved in dozens of transfers to privately held Safra.

Safra, based in midtown Manhattan, did not immediately return a request on Tuesday for comment.

In a lawsuit filed late on Monday in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan, Picard said Safra received $95.9 million of improper transfers from Fairfield Sentry Ltd, once run by Fairfield Greenwich Group and Madoff’s largest feeder fund.

Picard said the remaining sums came from feeder funds Fairfield Sigma Ltd, which was also run by Fairfield Greenwich, as well as two Kingate Management Ltd funds, known as Kingate Global Fund Ltd and Kingate Euro Fund Ltd.

On Monday, Picard and liquidators for the Fairfield funds announced an agreement to jointly pursue claims against Fairfield owners, including co-founder Walter Noel. A lawyer for Picard said the joint effort could add “billions” of dollars to recoveries for former Madoff customers.

Picard has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits to recover about $100 billion. Picard has said he has recovered more than $7.6 billion, though most of that is tied up in litigation.

Madoff, 73, was arrested on December 11, 2008. He is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

The case is Picard v. Safra National Bank of New York, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-ap-01885.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore, editing by Dave Zimmerman

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