In the days and weeks following the collapse of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi sheme, the foundations funded by media-shy Jeffry Picower – The Picower Foundation at MIT and The Picower Institute for Medical Research – were considered some of Madoff’s biggest victims. But, as it turns out, their generous benefactor may have known about the scheme all along, to the tune of $5.1 billion in returns from his various Madoff accounts.
To put $5.1 billion in perspective, Madoff reported a net worth of about $825 million shortly after he confessed.
ProPublica examines the lawsuit filed in May against Picower by Madoff trustee Picard, detailing the most interesting allegations, and reports on Picower’s past financial transgressions. Among the highlights:
- Though Madoff’s 10-12 per cent regular returns for clients were impressive, Picower’s Madoff investments did way better than that – for two of his accounts, Picower’s returns ranged from 120 per cent to more than 550 per cent annually.
- Between 1996 and 2003, Picower and his wife received sums at the beginning of each quarter that grew from $330 million to $1 billion.
- Picower would, according to the complaint, order specific “returns” from Madoff, sometimes requesting items be backdated.
- Picower has prior experience with legal troubles – the SEC has cited him for failure to disclose his stake in a company he was tryting to take over and he paid a $21 million settlement in a shareholder suit after the collapse of Physicians Computer Network
Through his attorney, Picower previously denied have any information about the scheme.