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Picower's wife seeks Madoff deal after filing of will

November 11, 2009|Bloomberg News

The trustee for Bernard Madoff's firm is in settlement talks with the estate of Jeffry Picower after the longtime Madoff investor, whom the trustee sued for the return of $7.2 billion in fake profit, drowned in a pool.

Picower's wife, Barbara, who received $200 million in cash in a will dated Oct. 15, wants to "reach promptly a fair and generous settlement with the Madoff trustee," she said in a statement Tuesday. Barbara Picower was also sued.

"Jeffry was determined that we would put Madoff behind us, reclaim our good name and reverse the damage Madoff's fraud had," Barbara Picower said.

Picower left $25 million to his daughter, Gabrielle Picower, and a total of about $15 million to 20 other people. The unspecified remainder will go to charity.

Trustee Irving Picard has sued Madoff's biggest investors and beneficiaries for the return of fake profits from the fraud to help repay victims. He sued the Picowers in May, claiming they withdrew more money from Madoff's business over 20 years than they deposited. The trustee said he is open to negotiating.

Negotiations have covered a settlement range of $2.4 billion to $7 billion, Picower's lawyer, William Zabel, said.

Picard said last month that he had recovered about $1.4 billion for victims so far, meaning a settlement with Picower in the low range would more than double the recovery.

Picower, who was 67, had a heart attack in his Palm Beach, Fla., swimming pool Oct. 25 and drowned.

A hearing on a motion by the Picowers to dismiss Picard's suit is scheduled for Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced to 150 years in prison for using money from new clients to pay earlier investors in a $65-billion Ponzi scheme.

Cash losses from the fraud now exceed $21 billion, Picard said.

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