Irving Picard announced a lawsuit against HSBC and other European banks that seeks $9 billion Sunday evening, kicking off a week that is likely to see him file other notable litigation as he rushes to beat a legal deadline pegged to the two-year anniversary of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities’ bankruptcy filing. Picard filed the lawsuit in Manhattan’s federal bankruptcy court. In a press release, Picard claimed that HSBC enabled Madoff’s financial fraud by extending the scam through feeder funds that found $8.9 billion of fresh cash for the Ponzi scheme across the globe. Other defendants named in the suit include European banks Unicredit and Bank Medici.
Picard claims HSBC and the other individuals and entities he sued “were well aware of the indicia of fraud surrounding” Madoff’s investment firm. For example, Picard says that HSBC twice hired KPMG to identify concerns with Madoff’s investment firm and twice ignored KPMG’s findings that Madoff’s firm carried serious risks.
In a statement, David Sheehan, Picard’s lawyer, said that HSBC “possessed a strong financial incentive to participate in, perpetuate, and stay silent about Madoff’s fraudulent scheme.”
Prior to this latest $9 billion lawsuit against HSBC and others, Picard’s biggest lawsuit in his controversial two-year effort to recover funds for some of the victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme was his $7.2 billion lawsuit against the late Jeffry Picower, who drowned in his swimming pool last year. That lawsuit, now essentially directed against Picower’s estate, looked like it would be settled at one point, but it has yet to be resolved.
Picard also recently sued UBS in a $2 billion lawsuit, which claimed the Swiss bank committed fraud and misconduct in connection with other Madoff feeder funds. UBS denied wrongdoing. As part of that lawsuit, Picard also sued Claudine de la Villehuchet, the widow of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, a French hedge fund manager who killed himself soon after the Ponzi scheme came to light.
In the two years Picard and his firm, Baker Hostetler, have been working the Madoff investment firm bankruptcy, they have recovered $1.5 billion for the “net losers” of the scam and earned some $85 million in fees. Still, most of the funds Picard has recovered were simply sitting in the Madoff firm’s bank account when the fraud was exposed. With the recent flurry of activity, it is clear Picard’s effort is just getting started.