With the deadline just hours away for filing clawback suits related to the Madoff bankruptcy case, the various cases will soon begin their slow trek through the legal system. The latest, and by far the largest suit initiated to date, is against Austrian banker Sonja Kohn, for $19.6 billion. The complaint, filed yesterday, alleges Ms. Kohn maintained a “criminal relationship” with Madoff. The trustee contends Kohn established Bank Medici as a conduit designed for the sole purpose of funneling money to Madoff through various feeder funds.
The lawsuit names Kohn, Bank Medici, Bank Austria, UniCredit SpA and dozens of other related parties. It seeks $19.6 billion tripled to $58.8 billion under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Kohn, who grew up in Vienna, has strong connections to the Jewish community, from Italy to Monsey, New York, to Jerusalem. Shortly after the Madoff affair became public, Kohn disappeared from sight – possibly due to the fact that several Russian oligarchs were prime depositors in Bank Medici.
While the outcome of this, and all other litigation, is still an open question, many are suggesting that investor losses from the Madoff Ponzi scheme may be as little as 50 cents on the dollar – a significant improvement from what was assumed almost two years ago.