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Madoff Trustee Sues Lion Global, 6 Firms Seeking $172 Million Recovery

The liquidator of Bernard L. Madoff’s firm sued Lion Global Investors Ltd. and at least six other companies to recover at least $172.8 million they allegedly received from investments made with the con man by Fairfield Sentry Ltd.

Irving Picard, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, claims Fairfield, a so-called feeder fund to the Madoff company, transferred “customer property” to Lion Global, a Singapore-based asset- management company; Quilvest Finance Ltd., a unit of Luxembourg- based investor Quilvest SA; and five other entities, according to filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Seven complaints filed yesterday seek at least $172.8 million for investors in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Picard demanded $11.5 million from First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB), the United Arab Emirates lender owned by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. Picard said he has the authority to take back the transfers as he works to recover money for Madoff customers.

Picard, after targeting and sometimes settling with the largest feeder funds, such as Fairfield Sentry, is pursuing comparatively small amounts from investors who redeemed money from the feeders before Madoff’s 2008 arrest. The trustee’s settlement with Walter Noel’s Fairfield Sentry was approved in court in June.

HSBC Ruling

The trustee last month lost the right to claim almost $9 billion in damages from HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and feeder funds after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who said Picard was free to pursue bankruptcy claims. Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in a prison in North Carolina.

Picard is seeking at least $50.6 million from Lion Global, according to the filing. Lion Global’s lawyers are looking into the lawsuit, Mae Wong, a spokeswoman for the Singapore firm, said today.

Lion Global, through its joint venture with Fairfield Greenwich Group, had sold about $45 million of the feeder fund to investors, according to a December 2008 Singapore regulatory filing.

Lion Global, which had S$28.7 billion ($24 billion) of assets under management as of June 30, is 70 percent-owned by life insurer Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. (GE) and 30 percent-owned by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., according to its website. Great Eastern is controlled by Oversea-Chinese, Southeast Asia’s second-largest bank.

A call to Quilvest USA in New York seeking comment on the lawsuit after regular business hours wasn’t immediately returned. A call to First Gulf Bank wasn’t answered after regular business hours.

The case is Picard v. Lion Global, 11-2540, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net; Linda Sandler in New York at lsandler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net

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