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Madoff's yacht seized in on French Riviera

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GREG KELLER | April 6, 2009 07:51 AM EST | AP


PARIS — Another of Bernard Madoff's trophy assets has been seized, this time in the south of France.

French authorities on the Cote d'Azur have chained up his $7 million yacht "Bull" at a marina in the exclusive Mediterranean enclave of Cap d'Antibes, between Cannes and Nice.

Bailiffs threw a heavy chain around the boat's propeller on Friday after a court granted the reqest by French investment firm Meeschaert, one of the many former investors in one of Madoff's funds that is now suing to get some of its clients' money back.

In a statement Sunday, Meeschaert chairman Cedric Meeschaert said the firm "decided to act fast, so that the boat wouldn't leave French waters."

A warning posted by the bailiffs on the boat reads: "Important: Do not turn on the motors, considering that the propellers are chained."

It cautions that "major judicial problems" will result if anyone attempts to remove the boat.

Last week a Palm Beach mansion owned by Madoff and two of his yachts were seized in the United States.

Madoff, 70, is in jail in New York awaiting sentencing after he pleaded guilty to swindling billions from investors in what could be the biggest scam in Wall Street history. He faces up to 150 years behind bars.

Prosecutors in the United States are seizing as much as they can of Madoff's personal fortune, and have begun demanding millions of dollars in payments from his relatives. Roughly 6,700 people have filed claims for a share of whatever is recovered. Thousands more _ some who lost in excess of $1 million _ are expected to come forward.