Madoff Operation Being Sold

NEW YORK (AP) - A court-appointed trustee overseeing the
liquidation of Bernard Madoff's assets announced Friday he has
reached a potential $15 million deal to sell a trading operation
within the disgraced financier's firm.

The agreement with Boston-based Castor Pollux Securities leaves
open the possibility that the operation could go to a higher bidder
before the sale is finalized, trustee Irving Picard said in a
statement.

Picard called the deal "a successful outcome of the broadly
marketed sales process." Castor Pollux had no immediate comment.

The trustee has been selling off Madoff's business assets -
including works of art in his midtown Manhattan office - to cover
thousands of claims brought by victims of the former Nasdaq
chairman's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The market-making division managed by Madoff's brother and two
sons was separate from the secretive investment advisory business
central to the scam. At a forum last month for victims, Pickard
said investigators had concluded the trading operation was
legitimate and should be sold to the highest bidder.

Under the terms of the deal, Castor Pollux would take over
office equipment and data of the business but not the employees,
who were fired on Friday. The firm would pay $500,000 at closing
and then payments of up to $15 million in revenues from trades
through 2012.

"The structure of this transaction enables the Madoff victims
to participate in future value derived from the assets acquired by
Castor Pollux," Picard said.

The 70-year-old Madoff faces a maximum sentence of 150 years in
prison after pleading guilty earlier this month to 11 charges
including fraud, perjury and money laundering. He was jailed while
awaiting sentencing.

During the plea, Madoff described the investment advisory
business as "the vehicle of my wrongdoing." But he also insisted
"the other businesses my firm engaged in, proprietary trading and
market making, were legitimate, profitable and successful in all
respects."

In November, Madoff notified 4,800 investors that their money
had grown in value to nearly $65 billion, a sum investigators say
was fictitious. Authorities have said the amount clients likely
trusted Madoff was probably closer to $17 billion - money he
admitted he never invested.

Madoff has told the Securities and Exchange Commission that he
had between $823 million and $826 million in personal assets, with
$700 million of that estimate attributed to his ownership interest
in his business.

The FBI and regulators are still trying to determine if members
of Madoff's inner circle were in on the fraud. They say the
investigation could drag out for months.


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