Bernard Madoff’s European business partner, Sonja Kohn, told a U.K. court she gave $60 million from the convicted fraudster to companies and trusts linked to her family.
Liquidators of London unit Madoff Securities International Ltd. are pursuing Kohn to recover fees she was paid to introduce European clients to his Ponzi scheme. She was ordered to come to a London court to answer questions about the assets.
“I had made a decision it would go for the benefit of my family,” the 64-year-old Kohn said, referring to the fees she received from Madoff. She said she couldn’t remember details of all the companies and trusts that received the money, or who controlled them. “I wish there would be something left of it.”
Liquidators of Madoff’s estate are trying to recover at least $80 million from the directors of his firm’s U.K. unit and others who profited from the Ponzi scheme. Kohn, a former economics adviser to the Austrian government, set up companies in the British Virgin Islands, Italy and Gibraltar for the income from Madoff.
Most of the companies have been wound up, she said. Asked about one of the firms, she said she couldn’t remember it, and it that it may have been “one of the companies created by my advisers and never used.”
Pushpinder Saini, a lawyer for the liquidators, said Kohn was really in control of the companies and could return assets if she wanted. “We’re not trying to hide anything,” she responded.
Kohn’s lawyer Trevor Asserson told the judge his client was also a victim of the fraud and hadn’t suspected any wrongdoing.
The liquidators are wrong to think “there must be some vast pot of gold somewhere,” Asserson said. He didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Madoff is serving 150 years in prison in North Carolina for the fraud that caused his New York-based firm to collapse in December 2008 sparking investigations and dozens of lawsuits.