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Ex-Bawag Chief Sues Bank, Cerberus Over Refco Fraud

Helmut Elsner, the former Bawag PSK chief executive officer, sued the Austrian bank and Cerberus Capital Management, claiming $1.8 billion in damages tied to the collapse of futures broker Refco Inc.

Elsner, who was convicted in 2008 of misuse of funds, said he was made a “scapegoat” and was wrongfully held responsible for losses at Bawag, according to a complaint filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court.

“Elsner, like numerous others, has been victimized by a massive fraud,” the complaint states.

The losses at Bawag were discovered in 2006 after Refco collapsed into bankruptcy. The losses led to the sale of Bawag to private equity firm Cerberus. Elsner’s lawsuit also named former Refco Chief Executive Officer Phillip Bennett, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence.

Representatives of Bawag and Cerberus couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Elsner v. Bennett, 653379-2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at

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