While the SEC did nothing for years as Bernard Madoff ripped off billions from his clients in one of the world's largest ponzi schemes, the trustee put in charge of recovering that money, Irving Picard, has already gone after some big shots.
Since being put in charge late last year, Picard, a lawyer, has received 8,848 claims from Madoff victims. In an attempt to get that money back--he's already recovered $1 billion--he is pursuing some of Wall Street's biggest names.
Perhaps Picard's most famous target has been J. Ezra Merkin, the former head of Gabriel Capital Corp. Picard claims that Merkin was a "sophisticated money manager" who should have known that Madoff was a con man. Picard is hoping to collect $557.8 million from Merkin, who on Tuesday was ousted from his firm by New York AG Andrew Cuomo.
Fairfield Greenwich Group is the latest big time fund to draw Picard's ire. The Madoff trustee is working to get back $3.5 billion from the fund, run by Connecticut society fixture, Walter M. Noel, who faced scandal earlier this month when it was erroneously reported he was kicked out of his fancy country club.
Picard has also sued Jeffry Picower, the co-founder of the Picower Foundation, one of the nation's biggest charitable foundations, for allegedly receiving $5 billion in fraudulent profits from Madoff. The suit alleges that the Picower Foundation had been profiting from the Madoff scheme for more than 20 years.
Picard is also focused on Los Angeles money manager Stanley Chais, who allegedly brought in more than $1 billion through the Madoff scheme, according to a suit filed by Picard. Chais handled money for Hollywood jet setters like Steven Spielberg.