NEW YORK — The trustee recovering money for investors who lost billions of dollars in jailed financier Bernard Madoff's fraud on Friday filed civil racketeering charges against an Austrian banker and 55 other defendants, demanding they give up nearly $20 billion and accusing the banker of being Madoff's "criminal soul mate."
Court-appointed trustee Irving Picard used tough language to portray a 23-year relationship between banker Sonja Kohn and Madoff, saying she "masterminded a vast illegal scheme" as she and others engaged in money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and financial institution fraud in support of the Madoff's scheme. He also accused her of accepting at least $62 million in secret kickbacks from Madoff for soliciting investors for the fraud.
Picard also announced Friday that he reached settlements with a number of charities and nonprofit organizations to recover more than $80 million and resolve civil claims against charities that withdrew more money than they deposited in accounts with Madoff.
Picard filed a lawsuit in US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan against members of what he labeled the "Medici Enterprise," which he said included the largest banks in Austria and Italy. A message for comment sent to a Kohn spokeswoman was not immediately returned.