US, Britain join Austria in Madoff-related probes

Prosecutors believe Madoff paid Bank Medici chairwoman Sonja Kohn in exchange for funneling billions of dollars in investments to Madoff.

Bernard Madoff 248 88  (photo credit: AP)
Bernard Madoff 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
US and British investigators have joined Austrian prosecutors in examining possible ties between a Vienna fund manager and disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, whose multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme wiped out thousands of investors and charities worldwide, an official said Monday. Gerhard Jarosch, spokesman for the Vienna Public Prosecutor's Office, told The Associated Press his office was aiding the US Justice Department and Britain's Serious Fraud Office in separate investigations of Bank Medici AG and its chairwoman, Sonja Kohn. Both Kohn and Medici also have been the focus of a fraud investigation in Austria since February, Jarosch said, stressing that Kohn has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. "I can confirm that we are assisting the US and British authorities in their investigations of Mrs. Kohn in connection with the Madoff case," he told AP. Jarosch declined to elaborate or say whether Kohn has been questioned by investigators from either country. Kohn, 60, has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment Monday. Her lawyer, Andreas Theiss, said she was not giving interviews, but he insisted she had no personal dealings with Madoff. "It's just not true," Theiss told AP. "There are some investors who lost money. Even the Kohn family lost a lot of money, full stop," he said. "That wasn't caused by Ms. Kohn. That was caused by Madoff." "Ms. Kohn is saying she never, ever got money from Mr. Madoff... and there's no evidence of any payments like that," Theiss added. The Wall Street Journal, citing affidavits filed in the case, reported Friday that prosecutors from all three investigations believe Madoff - sentenced a week ago to 150 years in prison - paid Kohn in exchange for allegedly funneling billions of dollars in European investments to Madoff.