PALM BEACH, Fla., May 5 (UPI) -- A judge in Florida said two lawsuits filed in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme case could upend negotiations to have $2 billion returned to victims.
Judge Burton Lifland ordered the lawsuits filed by Beasley Hauser Kramer Leonard & Galardi to be put on hold, while negotiations continue with the wife of billionaire Jeffry Picower, who died in October, The Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.
Court trustee Irving Picard estimates Jeffry Picower, a Madofff associate, took in $7.2 billion from the Ponzi scheme, once estimated to have lost $65 billion.
"These settlements negotiations are 'extremely delicate ... very difficult, time consuming and involving extraordinary sums of money,'" the judge wrote in the court order, quoting from court trustee Irving Picard's attorney, the newspaper said.
Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, head of the Madoff Coalition for Investor Protection, asked, "Why are we setting for $2 billion?"
"From Day One I didn't think Picard was looking out for the victims," he said.
To date, Picard has recovered $1.5 billion of the lost funds. He said 2,061 claims have been approved and 10,392 rejected.
The Securities Investment Protection Corp. has also compensated victims, shelling out $682 million on claims amounting to $5.3 billion, the Post said.