Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fees to Firms Referring Clients to Madoff Topped $790 Million

The Wall Street Journal - Firms that funneled investors' money to Bernard Madoff likely took in at least $790 million in fees over the years, according to a review of lawsuits and other documents emerging in the wake of Mr. Madoff's arrest.Now, investors and authorities are trying to get some of those dollars back, though how successful they will be remains unclear.

Banco Santander SA, one of the biggest of the "feeders" to Mr. Madoff, had some $3 billion with him through its Geneva-based hedge-fund group, Optimal Investment Services SA, according to the firm. Santander earned $52.7 million in 2007 and $43.3 million in 2006 in "investment manager's fees" from its Madoff-run Strategic U.S. Equity Series, according to a 2007 annual report.

Optimal's relationship with Mr. Madoff, which dated back more than a decade, was described in a 2008 internal report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal as a "very profitable business for the group." At the time, the firm collected an average management fee of "above 2%" on money placed with Mr. Madoff. Santander declined to comment.

Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty last month to perpetrating a massive Ponzi scheme. Many of his victims don't expect to recover anywhere near 100 cents on the dollar and are looking down all avenues for possible relief.

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