Image: Bernard L. Madoff
Stuart Ramson  /  AP file
Bernard Madoff confessed that his business had operated for about two decades as a Ponzi scheme in which some investors were paid off with the money provided by new investors.
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updated 7/30/2010 6:44:23 AM ET 2010-07-30T10:44:23

The court-appointed trustee seeking to recover billions of dollars lost by jailed financier Bernard Madoff filed three lawsuits Thursday in a bid to recover more than $30 million that he said the Madoff family had invested, mostly in oil and gas properties and technology companies.

The suits, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan by Irving Picard, are a follow-up to a lawsuit he filed in November seeking nearly $200 million from family members who he said lived lavishly while using the family finance business like a "piggy bank."

Picard wrote sarcastically in the latest lawsuits that Madoff was "quite generous" with the money he stole from thousands of customers in history's largest Ponzi scheme.

"Foremost among the recipients of Madoff's gifts of customer funds were his closest family members, including his wife Ruth Madoff, his brother Peter, his two sons Andrew and Mark and his niece Shana," Picard said.

"With respect to Mark and Andrew, the lawsuits are without merit, both factually and legally," said Martin Flumenbaum, a lawyer for Madoff's sons.

Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Ruth Madoff, declined to comment.

Messages left with lawyers for Peter and Shana Madoff were not immediately returned.

150-year prison sentence
The 72-year-old Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting that he never invested tens of billions of dollars he received from investors.

Defendants named in the lawsuits Thursday included Madoff Energy Holdings LLC, Conglomerate Gas Resources, Madoff Technologies, Madoff Brokerage & Trading Technology LLC, Primex Holdings LLC and Madoff Family LLC.

Picard said the entities were controlled by Madoff family members, many of whom worked for Madoff.

The lawsuits sought more than $22 million invested in technology companies, more than $5 million invested in oil and gas properties and another $3 million from the Madoff Family Fund, which included investments in a hedge fund and a biotechnology company.

The lawsuits said the investments were used as vehicles to funnel money out of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.

According to the lawsuits, the investment arm of Madoff's business generated account statements in early December 2008 for approximately 4,900 open customer accounts that claimed they were worth about $68 billion.

In reality, Madoff had lost all but a trace of the original $20 billion invested by his customers, the lawsuits said.

Madoff confessed in December 2008 to his sons and later to the FBI that his business had operated for about two decades as a Ponzi scheme in which some investors were paid off with the money provided by new investors.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Inside Madoff's homes

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  1. Penthouse view

    Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City. The U.S. Marshals Service plans to put the 4,000-square-foot duplex, a Palm Beach, Fla., estate, a yacht and two smaller boats up for sale in the hopes of raising tens of millions of dollars to help reimburse victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Luxurious surroundings

    The foyer and dining room of Madoff's penthouse apartment. Madoff estimated his Manhattan apartment was worth $7 million. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Living in style

    Chinese antiques, porcelain vases and towering wooden screens adorn the living room. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Spacious dining

    The dining room of Madoff's penthouse is as large as some one-bedroom apartments in New York City. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Scene of the crime

    Madoff's office in the New York apartment. The home office has a leather couch, paintings of sailboats and a sculpture of a bull, a favorite Madoff motif, on a coffee table. There's also the desk where authorities said they found 100 checks worth $173 million that Madoff was ready to send out to close relatives and friends after he realized he would be caught. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Stainless steel countertops

    The kitchen of Madoff's penthouse apartment has marble and stainless steel countertops and Baccarat crystal glasses in the cabinets. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Crystal for sale

    Baccarat crystal labeled for sale in the kitchen of Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Breakfast nook

    The kitchen of Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment has an atrium breakfast nook. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Master bedroom

    A four-poster bed adorns the master bedroom of Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Fallen from grace

    A detail of a poster of a photo of Bernard Madoff signed by friends and relatives left behind in Madoff's penthouse apartment. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Closet space

    One of three walk-in closets in the apartment, where agents found more than 50 business suits and countless pairs of men's shoes. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Spacious bathroom

    One of the bathrooms in Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment, with white marble floors, a bidet and a flat-screen television. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Crammed closet

    Boxes with personal belongings in a closet in Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Ruth's office

    Ruth Madoff's office in their penthouse apartment. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. 'Bull'

    Bernard Madoff's yacht, named "Bull," is a 55-foot 1969 Rybovich that has been completely refitted, from brand-new twin Man Diesel engines to all-new electronics. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Bunk-style

    Madoff's boat features three small state rooms with bunk beds, rather than a large state room with regular-size beds. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. On board

    The small kitchen on Bernard Madoff's boat was updated in prepation for the auction. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Bullish motif

    Napkins and glassware bear the name of Bernard Madoff's boat, "Bull." (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Florida seclusion

    A large banyan tree in the front yard of Bernard Madoff's Palm Beach, Fla., home. The house, which will be sold at auction, is tucked into a secluded, palm-lined lot with a stunning view to the west across the Intracoastal Waterway. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. On the auction block

    Everything in Bernard Madoff's study in his Palm Beach, Fla., home is tagged for auction. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Home away from home

    The formal dining room at Bernard Madoff's Palm Beach, Fla., home. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Master bedroom

    The sitting area of Madoff's Palm Beach, Fla., master bedroom. The 8,700-square-foot house, built in 1973, has Mexican tile throughout, five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Water view

    A telescope points out towards the Florida Intercoastal waterway, where Madoff would have been able to see his boats at a 100-foot private dock overlooking a chevron-shaped pool with a Jacuzzi at one end. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Palm Beach living

    Large vegetation and a swimming pool sit behind Bernard Madoff's Palm Beach, Fla., home. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Close to the sea

    The 1.2-acre lot in Montauk, New York sits closer to the surf than larger neighboring homes on the southeastern tip of Long Island. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Room with a view

    This is a view of the living room of the house of Bernard Madoff in Montauk, New York. A staircase descends to the living room with vaulted ceilings, exposed beams and a stone fireplace. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Dinner for eight

    The dining table has a view of the ocean. At 3,014 square feet, the home is cottage-size by superrich standards. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. 'Understated' design

    The master bath, one of three bathrooms in the house, has a look right out of the 1980s. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Decoy ducks

    A set of antique duck decoys on a hallway table. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. In the bedroom

    The second-floor entrance leads to this small master bedroom with a private terrace. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Nautical-meets-folk-art

    The Madoffs' interior decorating taste leaned toward nautical-meets-folk art. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Faded furniture

    Faded furniture, like this night table in one of the bedrooms, can be found throughout the home. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Relaxing on the porch

    Several sets of glass doors open onto the porch. The four-bedroom, three-bath beach house has been described as "simple, stylish and understated." (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Pool party

    A small swimming pool overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. A private path winds to the beach through pine trees, rose bushes and dune grass. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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