NEW YORK — More checks are in the mail for financier Bernard Madoff's victims, nearly four years after his epic Ponzi scheme collapsed.
Irving Picard, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff's firm, mailed checks worth nearly $2.5 billion Wednesday.
The distribution satisfies about half of the allowed claims filed by Madoff investors, Picard's office announced Thursday. The average payment: slightly more than $2 million.
The trustee's office says it has now distributed a total of $3.6 billion to Madoff victims.
Picard has sued hundreds of Madoff customers who took out more cash than they contributed to Madoff's scheme, on the assumption they were pulling out investment profits.
The trustee said he has recovered or reached settlements to recover $9.1 billion, or 53%, of the estimated $17.3 billion in principal contributed by Madoff's victims.
"In addition to recovering as much stolen money as possible for Madoff's victims, we are also moving forward aggressively to resolve litigation and appeals which are delaying further distributions" to Madoff customers, David Sheehan, an attorney working with Picard, said in a statement. "We are confident in our positions and we look forward to putting more recovered funds back in the hands of their rightful owners in the near future."
Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina. The FBI arrested him in December 2008.