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Madoff losses totaled so far at $21.2 billion; $530 million paid back

Irving Picard, the government-appointed trustee put in charge of returning investors' stolen money from Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, has so far identified $21.2 billion stolen from more than 2,300 investor accounts held by Madoff.

So far, Picard said earlier today, about $534 million has been paid back to investors out of the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), an entity formed by Congress and funded by the securities industry to partially insure investors' money, like the FDIC insures bank accounts.

The number paid out so far to Madoff victims exceeds SIPC's total payouts since it was formed in 1970.

Getting back money that Madoff stole from investors is tough. So far, Picard and SIPC have received 15,974 claims from people who invested directly with Madoff or through his feeder funds.

Picard has identified 2,335 investors who put more into Madoff's funds than they pulled out.

On the other hand, there are plenty who pulled out more than they put in and, given that Madoff didn't invest the money, that means they have literally been stealing other investors' money. Picard will pursue "clawback" lawsuits against those investors.

One of those was Jeffrey Picower, who died of a heart attack earlier this week. Picard called his death a "tragic event" but said he will continue to pursue money Picower should not have taken from Madoff's fund.

Picard has so far recovered about $1.1 billion through liquidation of Madoff assets and other means.

Picard has thus far identified $21.2 billion in "net equity" losses by investors with Madoff. Those are the people who put in more than they took out. In June, the loss was reported to the court at $13 billion, so that means Picard is digging in deep. Initially, the government estimated at $65 billion the amount of money Madoff stole and falsely claimed to have earned through investments, and that number may yet be reached.

Madoff, who confessed to running the scam, is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  October 28, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff, Irving Picard, Jeffrey Picower, Ponzi  
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