More on Madoff, O’Brien, and Restitution

HSBC logo, via their site.Further to my recent post on Restitution in the news!, two pieces in today’s Irish Times caught my eye:

Breifne O’Brien faces new claims for €997,000

TWO MORE claims have been brought to court against Breifne O’Brien, operator of an investment scheme, for the repayment of money given to him. The latest claims, totalling almost €1 million, will increase to more than €14 million the sums sought from the businessman. Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told yesterday by Alan Doherty, for several claimants, that two other creditors of Mr O’Brien have issued proceedings. This followed the judge’s indication last week that anyone else with claims should move speedily.

Kelly J was busy yesterday, as the other story demonstrates:

Two Irish-listed firms in court bid to recover €1bn

WO IRISH-LISTED investment companies, which gave sums of more than $1.1 billion (€847 million) and €170 million destined for alleged $50 billion fraudster Bernard Madoff and his company to invest in the Irish arm of banking giant HSBC to administer, have initiated Commercial Court proceedings in a bid to get the money back. The holding funds in which the money is held have been frozen. … Mr Justice Peter Kelly … said he believed this was the first litigation here deriving from the “infamous” Madoff bankruptcy and he listed for hearing on Tuesday next applications by the companies to prevent their money being dissipated or removed outside the Irish jurisdiction without leave of the court.

Although there is quite a bit of Irish law on this issue, it could do with clarification. And if either or both of these claims proceeds to full trial, that clarification would be welcome not only by the students in my Restitution course, but also by those practitioners who will have to advise clients as the current economic slowdown (are we allowed to call it a recession, or even a depression, yet?) deepens and there are more claims for the restitution of money transferred to collapsed financial institutions.

Update (25 January 2009): Legal Eagle has an excellent post on the legal issues raised by the Madoff affair: Investment scheme collapses give rise to equitable and restitutionary claims. She concludes:

Well, we’ll just have to watch this space and see what happens with the various legal claims. Yet again, I suspect the only people who will emerge happily from this will be the lawyers (no wonder nobody loves us).

I couldn’t agree more!

Update (26 January 2009): various Madoff pieces in Times Online here, here, and here; and, as a bonus, from the same source, news of a UK ponzi scheme.

Update (28 January 2009): From today’s Irish Times: Assets-freezing order on alleged fraudster increased; HSBC tells of Madoff link to disputed €1.2bn; from today’s Times Online: Santander offers €1.38 bn to compensate clients hit by Madoff.

Update (29 January 2009): A fascinating and comprehensive piece from The Independent: The Madoff files: Bernie’s billions. It begins:

How did Bernhard Madoff set about building the most audacious fraud in history? Did no one suspect that his investments were too good to be true? And how could his sons and brother, who helped run the family business, know nothing of the deception? As the full story emerges, Stephen Foley pieces together the $50bn puzzle

This is the last of the updates to this post. It was too good to omit. However, in the future (for the sake of my sanity) I’ll be referring only to developments sufficiently major to get their own posts; and, of course, any full judgments will be analysed on this blog as they arise.