The estate of Jeffry Picower, the investor who saw 950% returns from Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme, has agreed to forfeit $7,206,157,717 of Picower's ill-gotten gains and give it back to victims. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "Today’s truly historic settlement with the estate of Jeffry Picower is a game-changer for Madoff’s victims. By returning every penny of the $7.2 billion her late husband received from BLMIS to help those who have suffered most, Barbara Picower has done the right thing." This is the biggest settlement for Madoff victims thus far.
Picower invested $619.4 million with Madoff since the 1970s and took out $7.8 billion. He was found dead in his Palm Beach pool in October 2009 and apparently had a fatal heart attack. His widow Barbara said in a statement, “I am absolutely confident that my husband Jeffry was in no way complicit in Madoff’s fraud. The Madoff Ponzi scheme was deplorable, and I am deeply saddened by the tragic impact it continues to have on the lives of its victims. It is my hope that this settlement will ease that suffering.”
Dealbook reports, "The Picower estate will pay $5 billion to the trustee, Irving H. Picard, and $2.2 billion to a federal victims fund to resolve a lawsuit filed last year." Picard, who has recovered $2.3 billion for victims before this, said, "The importance of this settlement cannot be overstated, as it shows significant progress in our efforts to assemble the largest Customer Fund possible. Every penny of this $7.2 billion settlement will be distributed to BLMIS customers with valid claims." He added that when he sued Picower's estate last year "the records available led us to allege that Mr. Picower might have or should have known of Mr. Madoff’s fraud. With the benefit of additional records, I have determined that there is no basis to pursue the complaint against Mr. Picower, and we have arrived at a business solution instead."