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$2b. more for Madoff victims

NEW YORK – Victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud will soon receive $2.48 billion to help cover their losses, more than tripling their total recovery to about $3.63 billion, the trustee liquidating the imprisoned swindler’s firm said.

Cheques ranging from $1,784 to $526.9 million were mailed on Wednesday to 1,230 former customers of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, according to trustee Irving Picard. The average payout is $2.02 million.

Madoff’s victims earlier recovered $1.15 billion, including sums committed by the Securities Investor Protection Corp, which helps customers of failed brokerages.

US Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland in Manhattan authorised the latest distribution last month following two legal victories for the trustee.

In June, the US Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision that endorsed Picard’s methods for calculating losses. In July, a former Madoff customer dropped a court challenge to a $7.2 billion forfeiture by the estate of Madoff investor Jeffry Picower. Of that sum, $5 billion would go to the Madoff firm’s estate, and the rest to the US government.

Picard has recovered $9.15 billion, or 53 per cent of the $17.3 billion he believes was lost in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

The trustee is holding some funds in reserve as some Madoff victims pursue their own cases to recover more money.

Picard said this litigation is delaying further distributions. The trustee is also appealing court decisions that have limited his claims against banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co that did business with Madoff.

A spokeswoman for Picard was not immediately available to comment on the latest distribution. (Reuters)

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