A French victim of Bernard Madoff's fraud sought Friday to have proceeds from the sale of the jailed financier's villa on the French Riviera seized to compensate investors swindled out of billions of dollars.
Jean Reihnart, a lawyer for the victim, told The Associated Press that Madoff and his wife Ruth are looking to sell the villa, valued at $1.5 million, and he claimed that an agreement on the sale has been signed with a Russian businessman.
"I've requested that judicial authorities seize the proceeds of this sale to pay back French victims of Bernard Madoff," Reihnart said.
Reihnart represents a French investor who claims to have lost more than euro500,000 in savings with the Luxembourg-based LuxAlpha fund.
The Paris prosecutor in January opened a preliminary investigation into alleged abuse of confidence and fraud linked to a fund with ties to Madoff.
The 70-year-old Madoff pleaded guilty last month to federal charges that his secretive investment advisory service actually was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He risks a term of up to 150 years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for June.
Earlier this month, French authorities on the Cote d'Azur chained up his $7 million yacht "Bull" at a port in the exclusive Mediterranean enclave of Cap d'Antibes, between Cannes and Nice.
Bailiffs threw a heavy chain around the boat's propeller after a court granted the request by French investment firm Meeschaert, one of the many former investors in one of Madoff's funds that is now suing to get some of its clients' money back.