ALBANY – A $210 million settlement with a fund that fed a Ponzi scheme could lead to several upstate New York labor unions recouping all the money they lost in the investment swindle.
Officials reached a $210 million settlement with Ivy Asset Management, a BNY Mellon subsidiary that advised clients to invest with Bernard Madoff.
The settlement of lawsuits filed by the New York attorney general, U.S. Labor Department and private plaintiffs also provides for about $9 million in payments by other defendants. Combined with anticipated future payments from Madoff bankruptcy proceedings, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it is expected to return nearly all of the original investments to those who were defrauded, including union pension funds from upstate New York.
“Ivy Asset Management violated its fundamental responsibility as an investment adviser by putting its own pecuniary interests ahead of the interests of its clients,” Schneiderman said. “Ivy deliberately concealed negative facts it uncovered in its due diligence of Madoff in order to keep earning millions of dollars in fees. As a result, its clients suffered massive and avoidable losses.”
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the agreement “provides a measure of justice for those Americans who worked hard to prepare for their retirement and then saw hoped-for stability disappear.”
The affected unions from the Buffalo Niagara region are: Buffalo Laborers 210, Empire State Carpenters, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 463, Iron Workers Local 6 and Local 9, and Service Employees International Union Local 2000. Statewide affected unions are: Building Industry Employers, Building Trade Employers, New York State Lineman and SEIU Local 1199.
BNY Mellon referred questions to Ivy Asset Management, which has been winding down operations.
“Ivy is pleased to have reached an agreement that allows it to put these matters behind it,” said Douglas Squasoni, chief restructuring officer.
From 1998 to 2008, authorities say, Ivy was paid more than $40 million to give advice and conduct due diligence for clients with large Madoff investments.
Schneiderman spokeswoman Michelle Hook said the losses included about $138 million by the 78 upstate New York pension funds, and most will be recovered. The settlement included fees and expenses for the government lawyers and plaintiffs.
“It will be great if it happens,” said Thomas Halligan, business agent for Ironworkers Local 6, based in West Seneca. Halligan said he was awaiting details of the settlement. “Any time you lose money in a pension or a benefit fund, it’s a big deal.”
Daryl Bodewes, council representative for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, said he was also waiting for specifics. “Of course every dollar you can get back for the members is a great thing.”
The Beacon and Andover funds will get about $99 million in the settlement from their former outside investment adviser Ivy, attorney Arthur Jakoby said. That includes some union pension holdings, he said.
Internal Ivy documents showed the firm had deep but undisclosed reservations about Madoff, authorities said. Its clients lost more than $236 million after Madoff’s Ponzi scheme collapsed.
Madoff’s Ponzi scheme cost investors an estimated $17.3 billion. He pleaded guilty in 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison sentence in Butner, N.C.
Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of liquidating Madoff’s assets, estimated this summer he had recovered $9.1 billion, but had not yet distributed most of that.
News Business Reporter Matt Glynn contributed to this report.