Madoff associate wills bulk of fortune to charity

Financial Crisis Posted on

A man who made billions of dollars off Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme signed a will leaving the bulk of his fortune to charity, but the gift's ultimate size may depend on legal wrangling over how much of the money rightfully belongs to cheated victims.

Jeffry Picower, 67, a prominent philanthropist, drowned after suffering a heart attack in the swimming pool of his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion on Oct. 25.

Unlike some other Madoff investors, he died a rich man. The trustee unraveling Madoff's financial web said Picower withdrew some $7 billion from his Madoff accounts over the decades — well more than he invested.

That money is now known to have been stolen from other people, and Picower's widow said in a statement this week that the family wished to return some of it through "a fair and generous settlement" that might help overcome some of the "devastation" wrought on Madoff's victims.

The exact amount of that settlement is still unknown.

Madoff trustee Irving Picard has sued claiming victims are entitled to get back all $7 billion. The family has argued that under New York law, it should only have to return bogus profits they earned in the past six years, or around $2.4 billion.

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