Billions recovered for victims of Madoff scheme, attorneys say

Bernard Madoff in 2009.

Bernard Madoff in 2009.  (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, file)

Investors who lost billions of dollars in the disgraced hedge fund manager Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme could recover most of their initial investments, bankruptcy attorneys announced Monday.

More than $11 billion has been recovered, attorney Irving Picard said, according to ABC News. Investigators said Madoff's clients entrusted him with more than $17 billion in all.

Still, the money represents just a fraction of what those investors may have believed they earned. Madoff reportedly touted profits of more than $60 billion before his arrest.

Madoff revealed his fraud in December 2008 amid a collapsing economy, admitting that account statements showing clients held nearly $68 billion were a sham. The roughly $17.5 billion in principal invested by retirees, charities and other clients over decades was mostly gone - paid out as fake profits or raided by Madoff's family and cronies.

Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges a few months later and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Picard and fellow attorneys filed some 900 lawsuits to recover cash for Madoff's clients, according to ABC News. But some investors cried foul over fees charged by the law firm BakerHostetler, which could total nearly $1 billion.

“I would say he has been very cruel in what he has done,” investor Helen Chaitman told ABC.

“As a number it’s high, but in the context of what’s going on in this case, I don’t think so,” Picard responded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.