The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard Madoff’s brokerage plans to hire a British law firm to help in the international hunt for missing investor assets linked to the purported $50 billion fraud.
Lovells LLP has been asked to serve as special counsel in foreign proceedings involving Madoff’s international business, according to a U.S. bankruptcy court filing by trustee Irving Picard.
Picard, a New York lawyer, is liquidating Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in the United States. He is working to try to identify remaining assets that could be returned to investors who believe they were defrauded by the accused swindler.
Madoff, once a respected money manager, was arrested Dec. 11. Authorities say he has confessed to running a massive Ponzi scheme, a scam in which earlier investors are paid with money deposited by newer ones.
The trustee’s request, dated Monday, requires approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton Lifland in Manhattan. Picard said in the court papers that he wants help from Lovells in sorting through legal issues in Europe related to Madoff Securities International Ltd.
Lovells partners in London charge as much as 610 pounds ($875) an hour, according to Picard’s filing. He proposed that the firm’s lawyers be compensated for their Madoff work at their normal hourly rates, less a 10 percent discount.
Lovells has more than 1,850 legal staff worldwide, according to its website. A firm spokesman, Fred Banning, declined to comment beyond what was in the court filing.
Separately, Judge Lifland is to hold a hearing Wednesday on other matters related to the Madoff firm liquidation. On the agenda is an agreement by Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) to transfer about $535 million found in Madoff accounts to the trustee. (Reporting by Martha Graybow; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)