Donald Trump’s new national finance chairman and his family pocketed about $3.2 million in fake profit from his mother’s account with convicted con man Bernard Madoff -- money that didn’t have to be returned to victims because it was taken out of the Ponzi scheme in time.
Steven Mnuchin, a business associate of Trump’s and also chairman and chief executive officer of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management LP, was sued in 2010 by a trustee seeking to recoup Madoff investors’ losses from customers who’d withdrawn more money from his firm than they put in.
Mnuchin was named to the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign on Thursday. The suit against the hedge fund manager was dropped last year because of time restrictions imposed on the Madoff trustee, Irving Picard, in a ruling that allowed hundreds of customers to keep about $2 billion in stolen money.
When Mnuchin’s mother, Elaine Cooper, died in February 2005, he and his brother Alan Mnuchin were named as beneficiaries and executors of her estate, according to the complaint. Within a few months, they withdrew the cash from her Madoff account. Madoff, a respected financier for decades, was arrested in December 2008. Picard said $3.2 million of the Mnuchin family’s withdrawal was fake profit that belonged to other investors.
"This was one of hundreds of cases that there was a decision on," Mnuchin said in a phone call on Friday. "There is nothing special about this case."
Picard dropped the suit after a federal appeals court ruled the trustee couldn’t claw back withdrawals of fake profit that were made more than two years before the fraud collapsed. Picard had been seeking to go back as far as six years.
The trustee had also sued Steven Mnuchin’s brother Alan, their lawyer William Zabel and trusts associated with the family.
Neither the Mnuchins nor their mother were accused of knowing about Madoff’s fraud, but Picard sued all investors who emerged from the scam as “net winners.” Picard has so far recovered more than $11 billion for victims through such lawsuits, as well as complaints against banks and offshore feeder funds that helped feed the scam.
Calls to a phone number listed for Alan Mnuchin’s company, AGM Partners LLC, didn’t go through. He didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment, sent through a social media account. Steven Mnuchin declined to say who got the $3.2 million.