(Bloomberg News) The trustee liquidating Bernard L. Madoff's defunct investment firm asked a judge to pay him and his law firm $43.2 million for four months' work, as well as about $5.5 million in fees deferred during the case.

Expenses of $1.1 million were claimed by trustee Irving Picard and Baker & Hostetler LLP from Oct. 1 to January 31, according to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing in New York yesterday.

High fees in the liquidations of the jailed Ponzi-scheme operator's firm and the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. brokerage might deplete the $2.5 billion fund of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., according to a March 30 audit report by the Office of the Inspector General at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC watchdog recommended "systematic" inspections of SIPC by the SEC to ensure cost-effective processing of brokerage customer claims and liquidations.

Amanda Remus, a Picard spokeswoman, declined to comment on the report. In the filing, Picard said he and his lawyers bill the Madoff estate, not tapping the fund of customer property.

Picard, who has filed more than 1,000 suits seeking money for the con man's investors, has recovered more than $7.6 billion, out of about $17 billion in principal lost, according to his latest calculations. By next month, the trustee will have determined almost every one of 16,518 claims filed in the case, according to the filing.

Total deferred fees for Picard and his firm since Madoff's arrest in December 2008 exceed $23 million, according to the filing. The trustee asked the judge to reduce deferrals to 10 percent, from 15 percent, citing "results achieved for the victims of Madoff's fraud."

The main case is Securities Investor Protection Corp. v. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, 08-ap-1789, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).