5/13/09

WSJ: Trustee Picard Seeks Massive Clawback of Madoff Monies from Jeffry and Barabara Picower and their foundation

Picower's past according to the Times:
Mr. Picower appears to have made a fortune in a 2004 deal struck by Cardinal Health to acquire Alaris Medical Systems for $1.6 billion. Mr. Picower owned 65 percent of Alaris.

He was said to have been friends with Mr. Madoff for 30 years. But he has brushed up against other financiers whose conduct caused him losses. In 1990, Mr. Picower recovered some of the money he had invested in Ivan Boesky’s biggest arbitrage fund. Mr. Boesky pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges in 1986.
Picower's present according to the WSJ:
Foundation That Is Tied to Madoff Faces Suit
By AMIR EFRATI

A major investor with Bernard Madoff who ran a well-known philanthropic fund received annual returns of as high as 950% and sought "fictitious gains" for numerous accounts, alleged the trustee of Mr. Madoff's investment firm in a lawsuit Tuesday.

Trustee Irving Picard sued Palm Beach, Fla., investor Jeffry Picower, his wife, Barbara, and the Picower Foundation, saying evidence suggests "complicity" by the defendants in Mr. Madoff's fraud. Mr. Picard is seeking the return of $5.1 billion that the defendants withdrew from the Madoff firm. The Picowers, who had two dozen accounts with Mr. Madoff, received annual returns of more than 100% in 14 instances, Mr. Picard said.

William Zabel, a lawyer for the Picowers, said they were "totally shocked" by Mr. Madoff's fraud and "were in no way complicit in it." He said they and their foundation, now closed, lost billions.

The Picower Foundation, which garnered headlines as a high-profile victim of the Madoff fraud, had nearly $1 billion, according to its 2007 tax returns. That year, it gave millions to health-related causes. Mr. Madoff in March pleaded guilty to perpetrating a massive Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Picard's suit alleges that in several instances Mr. Picower or an associate of his directed the Madoff firm to credit certain gains to his accounts, including gains that would be applied to prior months and years. By asking to "backdate" gains more than a year in the past, the lawsuit says, Mr. Picower and others at his firm "knew or should have known that they were participating in fraudulent activity."

Mr. Picard said records from Mr. Madoff's firm reflect conversations in May 2007 between an employee of Mr. Picower, April Freilich, and Madoff employees about gains that Mr. Picower allegedly wanted for the foundation. The gains he allegedly requested, and that were granted, were for January and February 2006, or more than a year earlier, according to the suit. This and similar moves in May 2007 instantly netted Mr. Picower $55 million in purported gains, the suit says.

Mr. Zabel, who represents Ms. Freilich and the Picower Foundation, said Ms. Freilich had no comment. Ira Sorkin, a lawyer for Mr. Madoff, declined to comment. Including Tuesday's actions, Mr. Picard, an attorney at Baker & Hostetler LLP, has sought to get back about $8 billion that certain investors withdrew from Mr. Madoff's firm...

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