Witness to be examined in Madoff case
A Bermudian-based witness is to be questioned this year by lawyers acting for the liquidator of disgraced American fraudster Bernie Madoff.
An order by the Supreme Court cleared the way for a legal team to examine British-born Christopher Wetherhill on the island.
The legal team for Irving Picard, the US trustee in bankruptcy for the estate of Bernard L. Madoff and Bernard L Madoff LLC is also suing Bermudian-based Kingate Global and Kingate Euro Funds, where Mr Wetherhill was a director.
The two funds had about $3.5 billion invested with Madoff in November 2008, the month before Madoff, who operated a massive $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme, was arrested.
The recent Supreme Court order means the trustees’ lawyers will be able to question Mr Wetherhill and take his testimony.
The evidence can then be used in the main Madoff civil case, which will be heard in the US Federal Court in New York as liquidators attempt to recover Madoff assets to pay off creditors.
Mr Wetherhill is expected to appear before an Examiner appointed by the Supreme Court some time before May, but an exact date has yet to be set.
Several top local lawyers attended the short hearing last week, including Justin Williams for the trustee, Dennis Dwyer for Mr Wetherhill and Alex Potts for the Kingate Funds.
At the end of the hearing an order was presented by consent to Chief Justice Ian Kawaley which will allow the examination of Mr Wetherhill to take place and the evidence-gathering procedure to go ahead.
Mr Williams, lead lawyer for the trustee, told The Royal Gazette: “The trustee is in the process of obtaining evidence for use at trial in the US Federal Court from certain witnesses on the island.”
Thousands of investors lost around $17.5 billion in principal after the 2008 collapse of the Ponzi scheme run by Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009.
Mr Picard has so far raised more than $11.5 billion for victims of Madoff’s fraud through hundreds of lawsuits against funds and customers who profited from the Madoff scam.
The Royal Gazette reported last June that the Bermuda-based investment fund Thema would have to fork out $130 million to repay victims of Madoff.
Thema was among many feeder funds that directed cash to Madoff’s New York-based investment advisory business, often without their clients’ knowledge.
Thema itself lost around $1 billion.
• This story has been amended to state that the Kingate funds had $3.5 billion invested with Madoff, rather than $3.5 million, as incorrectly stated earlier.