Accused swindler Bernard Madoff moved $164 million from his firm in Britain to New York in the weeks before he was arrested on a charge of running the largest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street history, according to court papers.
The receiver for Madoff Securities International Ltd (MSIL) said in a court filing on Thursday that the money was moved in two transfers in November that greatly reduced funds held by the London firm.
During the nearly three months since Madoff's December 11 arrest on allegations he ran a $50 billion global fraud over many years, U.S. authorities have said Madoff had hundreds of millions of dollars in checks ready to mail out to family and associates.
On February 11 a Massachusetts state regulator said Madoff's wife, Ruth Madoff, withdrew more than $15 million from an account linked to her husband in the days before his arrest.
Madoff, a once-respected trader and investment manager, is under house arrest and 24-hour surveillance. He is the only person charged in the purported Ponzi scheme in which early investors are paid with the money of new clients.
Court-appointed receiver Lee Richards, in a report in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, asked the judge overseeing the civil case to end his receivership. He wrote that his role "has effectively been taken over by the United States and United Kingdom government authorities" and their appointees.
He described "significant limitation on our ability to obtain relevant information" but said "we are aware of two recent transactions that have greatly reduced the assets held by MSIL.
"In November 2008, MSIL made two fund transfers to Bernard Madoff Investment Securities that total approximately $164 million."
Madoff's attorney was not available to comment.
"Our current understanding is that the sole business of MSIL was to engage in proprietary trading, and that MSIL was funded almost entirely by capital from Mr Madoff," Richards said. "We have uncovered no evidence to date indicating that MSIL had any customers or clients, or that it conducted any trades on behalf of third parties."
The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Madoff et al 08-10791 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).