Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Madoff UK offices in fraud probe

By Nils Blythe
Business correspondent, BBC News

Madoff arriving for Thursday's court hearing
Bernard Madoff could be sentenced to up to 150 years in prison

The UK offices of disgraced US financier Bernard Madoff may have been significant in his fraud, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) believes.

Last year, more than £1bn is believed to have flowed between Madoff's main US investment fund and the London-based Madoff subsidiary.

The SFO is investigating whether criminal offences have been committed in the UK by people other than Madoff.

Madoff, who maintains he worked alone, faces up to 150 years in jail.

'Washing machine'

He is currently awaiting sentencing in June for the $50bn (£35bn) investment fraud.

The SFO thinks the London office - Madoff Securities International Limited (MSIL) - was a significant cog in what it calls a "washing machine" moving money around the world.

The investigation has so far focused on MSIL's trading records and none of its directors or staff have been arrested or interviewed.

The office says it expects to decide whether or not to start bringing charges within the course of this year.

Prosecutors in the US are also trying to seize $100m of property and assets, including homes, cars and boats in France, belonging to Madoff and his family.

Madoff's brother, Peter, who was an executive at his brother's firm, has had his assets frozen by a US court, after nearly half a million dollars with which he was entrusted went missing.

Prosecutors have also charged Madoff's long-term accountant, David Friehling, with fraud. Mr Friehling was not, however, accused of knowing or being part of Madoff's scheme.

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