The checks are in the mail to the tune of nearly $352 million for victims of con man Bernard Madoff, an amount that pushes the recovery of losses in Wall Street's biggest Ponzi scheme to about 46 cents on the dollar, officials said Monday.
Added to the $4.8 billion already paid out to approved claimants in the Madoff case, the latest payments by trustee Irving Picard will push reimbursements to victims to about $5.252 billion. Since Madoff's scheme collapsed in December 2008, Picard has approved under the Securities Investor Protection Act some 2,518 claims related to 2,190 accounts.
With the latest recovery, Picard said that 1,129, or 51 percent, of Madoff accounts will be paid in full. Accounts are approved if the investor was a "net loser," meaning a person who lost more money than the original principal invested. Picard denied thousands of claims by "net winners," those who withdrew more money from their accounts than was originally invested.
The smallest amount being paid out by Picard in the latest disbursement is $500 and the largest about $77.8 million, he said in a statement. The average payment is $325,000.
While some experts initially thought investors could hope to recover only 2 cents on the dollar, Stephen Harbeck, head of the nonprofit Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which is involved with Picard, said in a statement that he is aiming to get a 100 percent pay back for those who lost money.
Not covered by Picard's payouts are indirect investors whose money was funneled to Madoff by various hedge funds. Those investors will eventually be able to recoup some of their cash from a separate fund being administered by a special master working with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Since Madoff's firm collapsed and took with it some $17 billion of investor funds, Picard has been working with SIPC and the bankruptcy court to recover $9.8 billion through lawsuits and a worldwide search. Picard has been making payments to investors since October 2011, with the biggest of $3.747 billion sent out in September 2012.