At $5B in Profits, One Client May Have Out-Madoffed Madoff

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2009 4:01 PM CDT
Bernard Madoff exits Manhattan federal court.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – At least one person looks to have benefited more from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madoff, ProPublica reports. Jeffry Picower, a secretive philanthropist and investor in medical technologies, is on the books as having withdrawn some $5.1 billion in returns from 1995 to 2008, well beyond his original investment. Records show some fishy numbers in Picower’s accounts, and the Madoff trustee has filed a lawsuit against him.

While the suit vaguely alleges that Picower “knew or should have known” about the scam, the numbers speak volumes. For years, Picower made quarterly withdrawals conveniently adding up to round numbers like $250 million, but it’s the rate of return that’s “otherworldly.” One year, an account earned 950%; 550% was not uncommon. Picower’s charitable foundation conveniently folded just after the scheme came to light.