UniCredit Wins Order Dismisses Claims From Picard Suit

UniCredit SpA won a ruling dismissing racketeering and other claims filed by the trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff’s shuttered firm, narrowing the trustee’s suit against the bank.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan today threw out claims by the trustee, Irving Picard, against UniCredit, Pioneer Global Asset Management SpA, UniCredit Bank Austria AG and Alessandro Profumo, Milan-based UniCredit’s former chief executive officer. The ruling, which wasn’t released publicly, was faxed to attorneys in the case.

Picard’s claims under the racketeering statute, which allows for triple damages, accounted for most of the $59 billion he demanded in the suit. Rakoff also dismissed common-law claims including unjust enrichment and conversion. He directed that the remaining claims be returned to bankruptcy court.

Picard’s racketeering claims that the defendants “fed, perpetuated and profited from” Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is a “casual assertion” that fails to establish a direct enough relationship between the alleged criminal acts and resulting injuries, Rakoff wrote in today’s opinion.

Madoff, 73, is serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina for running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of billions of dollars.

Amanda Remus, a spokeswoman for Picard, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Picard v. Kohn, 11-CV-1181, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).