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Irving Picard, Bernie Madoff Trustee, Files Lawsuits Seeking Hundreds Of Millions From Swiss, Belgian Banks

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IRVING PICARD MADOFF LAWSUITS SWISS BANKS
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* Hundreds of millions of dollars sought from private banks

* Banks said to receive transfers from Madoff feeder funds

* Private lenders in Switzerland, Belgium among those sued

By Jonathan Stempel

June 6 (Reuters) - The trustee seeking money for Bernard Madoff's victims on Wednesday filed many new lawsuits to recover several hundred millions of dollars derived from investments by "feeder" funds in the imprisoned swindler's former firm.

Irving Picard, the trustee, filed complaints seeking a respective $354.9 million and $179.4 million from Swiss private banks EFG Bank SA and Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie.

Among the other complaints is a $122.2 million case against defendants including ABN Amro Fund Services (Isle of Man) Nominees Ltd, and a $108.1 million case against defendants including Belgian private lender Banque Degroof SA.

These defendants did not immediately respond to respective requests for comment.

Picard has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits on behalf of former Madoff customers, and according to his website has reached agreements to recover $9.13 billion to repay them.

Much of that sum is tied up in litigation. The trustee has distributed about $332.6 million to customers since Madoff's Ponzi scheme was uncovered in December 2008.

Wednesday's lawsuits were filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

They seek to recover money transferred to third-party defendants by feeder funds that had funneled much of their customer money to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

Among those funds were Fairfield Greenwich Group's Fairfield Sentry Ltd and Fairfield Sigma Ltd, and Kingate Management Ltd's Kingate Global Fund Ltd and Kingate Euro Fund Ltd.

Amanda Remus, a spokeswoman for Picard, said the lawsuits were being filed prior to Thursday's one-year anniversary of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland's conditional approval of a settlement between the trustee and Fairfield Sentry liquidators.

"Tomorrow is the earliest date that defendants could claim the one-year statute of limitations expires for subsequent transfer cases" based on that settlement, she said.

Fairfield Greenwich had been the largest feeder of cash to Madoff's firm. Picard and liquidators for the Fairfield funds have also been pursuing claims against Fairfield's owners, including co-founder Walter Noel.

Madoff, 74, pleaded guilty in March 2009 to running his Ponzi scheme. He is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

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