Ponzi victim payouts triple to $2.39bn

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The victims of one of the most notorious Ponzi investment scams in history have scored a major legal victory.

Victims of notorious scammer Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme will soon receive US$2.48bn (AU$2.39bn) to help cover their losses – easily the largest payout since the astonishing fraud was uncovered nearly four years ago.

Cheques were mailed to 1,230 former customers of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC this week, ranging from US$1,784 to US$526.9m, reported Reuters.

According to Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm, the latest distribution of cheques more than triples the total recovery to US$3.63bn, with the average payout being US$2.02m. 

In total, 1,074 customers with valid claims, or 44% of the total number, will be fully repaid.

Manhattan bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland authorised the latest distribution last month following two legal victories for the trustee.

According to the report, Picard has recovered US$9.15bn to date, or 53% of the US$17.3bn he believes was lost in Madoff's Ponzi scheme.  

Some funds are being held in reserve as Madoff victims pursue their own cases to recover more money, which Picard said is delaying further distributions.

Madoff was arrested in December 2008 and pleaded guilty three months later to running a Ponzi scheme. The 74-year-old is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

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