Picower estate returns $7.2 billion from Madoff scam

NEW YORK (JTA) — The estate of one of the largest beneficiaries of Bernard Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, Jeffrey Picower, has agreed to return $7.2 billion to Madoff’s victims.

The figure is the difference between the amount of cash that Picower, a Jewish investor, put into his account with Madoff and the amount that he withdrew, The New York Times reported. The deal was announced at a news conference last Friday.

Picower, whose foundation gave to Jewish causes before it was wiped out by the revelation of Madoff’s fraud, was found dead of a heart attack in his swimming pool in October 2009.

Irving Picard, the trustee for Madoff’s estate who is charged with recouping funds from those who made money in the scam and returning it to the losers, has estimated that the total cash losses are about $20 billion. 

Picard has filed hundreds of so-called clawback lawsuits against those who made money. He also has reached significant settlements with others, including $45 million with Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America and $625 million with Boston-area Jewish philanthropist Carl Shapiro.

Including the reported Picower settlement, Picard will have recovered about half of what he estimates was stolen by Madoff.

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