Bloomberg News

Madoff Trustee Barred From Pursuing Some Claims Against HSBC

July 29, 2011

(Updates with trustee spokeswoman’s comment in fifth paragraph and HSBC response in last paragraph.)

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- The liquidator for Bernard Madoff’s firm was barred by a federal judge from pursuing some claims in his lawsuit against HSBC Holdings Plc seeking to recover money for Madoff customers.

Irving Picard, the Madoff firm’s trustee, doesn’t have standing to pursue common-law claims against London-based HSBC, according to a decision filed yesterday by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York. Rakoff also dismissed common-law claims against UniCredit Spa.

Picard asserts a “number of convoluted theories, none of which is ultimately persuasive,” Rakoff wrote. Referring to one of Picard’s positions, the judge said: “To say this argument is a stretch would be to give it more credence than it deserves.”

Picard in December filed a revised complaint in U.S. Bankruptcy Court against HSBC, accusing it of aiding Madoff’s fraud. The complaint seeks to recover $2 billion in transfers out of Madoff’s business. It also asserted common-law claims seeking at least $6.6 billion from HSBC and about $2 billion from a group of 36 other defendants, including Milan-based UniCredit, according to Rakoff’s ruling.

Picard is reviewing the ruling, Amanda Remus, his spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. She declined to comment further.

Claims Dismissed

Rakoff took the case out of bankruptcy court and considered whether Picard could bring common-law claims, such as aiding and abetting fraud. The judge said all the common-law claims must be dismissed, with the remainder of the case returned to the bankruptcy court.

“We are very pleased by this decision, and we are analyzing its implications,” said Marco Schnabl, a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which represents UniCredit.

Thomas Moloney, a lawyer representing HSBC, declined to comment.

The case is Picard v. HSBC Bank Plc, 11-cv-0763, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.


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