Investors who lost a bundle in Fairfield Greenwich Group funds that funneled money into Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme reached a deal with the fund’s founders that could be worth much as $80.3 million.
The proposed settlement announced Tuesday is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York.
As part of the deal, a proposed class of investors — so-called “net losers” who invested more than they collected from the funds — will be paid $50.3 million.
Although that’s no small sum, the investors’ lawyers peg their total losses in Madoff’s scheme at $1.33 billion.
The settlement calls for the defendants to put an additional $30 million in escrow to be paid out as long as those funds aren’t used to resolve other claims.
The defendants have claims pending against them in a separate case brought by Irving Picard of Baker & Hostletler, the trustee liquidating Madoff’s defunct securities firm. That case, like many feeder fund cases, is pending before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York.
The investors’ lawyers at Boies, Schiller & Flexner; Wolf Popper; and Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson claim Fairfield and its co-founders committed fraud when they funneled $7 billion into Madoff’s investment firm.
The defendants countered that they also were duped by Madoff and lost money in his fraud.
But Marrero refused to dismiss the case in 2010.
“The court finds that any competing inference of innocent conduct — e.g., that the fraud defendants were bamboozled by Madoff — is not as compelling as the finding of scienter,” Marrero wrote in his 198-page opinion.
Boies Schiller’s David Barrett said the settlement will help the plaintiffs pursue the deep-pocket defendants still remaining in the case, including the funds’ auditors at PricewaterhouseCoopers and their administrators at Citco Group Ltd.
“The settlement simplifies the case and allows us to really focus on the defendants that have a much greater ability to pay damages,” Barrett said. The proposed settlement notes that Fairfield Greenwich’s founders will make individuals associated with the funds available for future depositions and testimony.
The primary funders of the settlement announced Tuesday are Fairfield Greenwich co-founders Walter Noel Jr., Andres Piedrahita, and Jeffrey Tucker. They are represented by Glenn Kurtz of White & Case, Andrew Levander of Dechert, and Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, respectively. Levander and Kurtz had no comment by deadline. Kasowitz referred a call to Mark Cunha of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, who represents the Fairfield funds. Contacted Wednesday, Cunha said the settlement speaks for itself.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is represented by Kirkland & Ellis, and Citco by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.