Posted by smeissnerdev

Assisting Victims of the Bernard Madoff Scandal

Our Approach


The Madoff scandal is the most significant financial scandal in decades. The Meissner firm, which based on its prosecutorial experience, specializes in financial fraud and mismanagement has been contacted by numerous victims of the Madoff Scandal from around the world. The shock and surprise that the Madoff victims have incurred is typical of the Meissner firm’s clients over the years.

The Meissner firm’s focus on detail in both screening and pursuing all cases it accepts retention on should assist the victims of this scandal in avoiding the pitfalls of pursuing misguided false leads and false hopes resulting from in-experienced counsel. Financial fraud and securities arbitration is a specialty that most attorneys do not focus on.

Many victims of this scandal will no doubt be led astray by law firms who are either “mill” type firms or lack the securities prosecution and arbitration experience that the Meissner firm has, only further adding to the victims woes.

By being selective in the matters we accept and by limiting the number of arbitration/litigation matters we take on each year, our clients can be assured that they are being provided with experienced counsel who pay careful attention to their case and focus attention only on the avenues which will most likely lead to the recovery of funds.

In pursuing all our cases we are well aware that the combination of aggressive pursuit of all claims, while at the same time cooperating with regulatory agencies with which the Meissner firm, due to Mr. Meissner’s background, has long term contacts with, along with selective cooperation with the press where appropriate, usually leads to the positive results the firm is known for.

It is just such strategic approach which has even led to our retention on an industry dispute matter by a brokerage firm which we had previously successfully pursued only a month before on behalf of a defrauded investor (SEE 04/21/08 – NY Daily News: Staten Island Couple Getting Savings Back After Financial Adviser Hurt Them.). When a firm we successfully pursued on behalf of an investor then seeks to retain us as their own counsel in another proceeding, we know our approach stands out from the rest of the crowd.

The Madoff scandal has impacted the small and the large. We know that victims of a financial scandal like the Madoff scandal can come in all shapes and sizes. Victims can range from the individual investor to an entity such as a charity. In the Madoff situation where many relied on others who had the responsibility to diversify one’s investment into several funds, rather than the fund of one person as many Madoff intermediaries apparently did; or as a intermediary who collected a fee from either Madoff or from the investor in supposedly screening Madoff’s investment vehicles and supposedly investigating and conducting due diligence on Madoff and his funds, such intermediaries had duty to perform such screening/diversification functions. It is clear that many of these intermediaries failed in their duties and we are confident we will hold those entities responsible for their failures and in so doing bring relief to many Madoff victims.

Mr. Meissner two decades of experience in successfully investigating and pursuing financial fraud on behalf of a variety of defrauded investors creates the foundation for which he is assisting victims of the Madoff Scandal. As a prosecutor of State of New York Mr. Meissner led many financial fraud investigations to successful prosecution. One of Mr. Meissner’s well reported matters even involved his assisting “victim” Thomas Gambino when even he along with other investors were victims of financial fraud in the 1990s. Meissner’s prosecution of the fraudster who apparently had the courage to defraud Thomas Gambino of the Gambino Crime Family was well reported by Barrons Magazine “Profiles in Courage” Piece in May 1999. The Madoff scandal once again demonstrates, similar to the Gambino related matter, that anyone can be the victim of brokerage fraud or brokerage negligence.

What We have Seen and Heard

We have heard from victims from around the world from Switzerland to Israel and all over the United States. Some have invested in Madoff funds as a result of their interaction with a bank in which case we have asked to see any agreements between themselves and that bank, especially and documents referring to Madoff funds as well as any agreements between the client and the bank as to where one may pursue a claim against such bank whether in a forum such FINRA or FINRA or AAA or in Court in a particular country or state.

We have heard from others who were referred to Madoff by a licensed broker of a brokerage firm who may have been paid my Madoff or charged the client a fee for such referrals, but where the brokerage firm itself did not know of such referrals. Such referrals may lead to a claim of “selling away” which may be pursued against the employing brokerage firm for failing to supervise that broker. In addition, we have heard from many individuals who were not referred by a bank or brokerage firm, but either invested through one of the funds of funds or directly with Mr. Madoff.

Many charities have been especially effected by this fraud. The Meissner firm has substantial experience working with charities. When a charity is the victim of fraud it raises a variety of possible unique issues including concerns relating to the Board of Directors and the trustees who were misled. We understand the dynamics involved and the complexity created by the altering membership over the years within the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors and the potential of Madoff intermediaries who may attempt the typical “blame the victim” defense in seeking to assess blame on the trustees or the board.

The Meissner firm has been down this road and is well prepared to present the law demonstrating that such boards may rely upon the purported expertise of financial “experts” in investing the charity’s funds. These issues are certainly complex, which is why it is important that victims are represented by a firm with experience in these issues . The Meissner’s firms well reported efforts as appeared in the Sunday Business Section of NY TIMES on behalf of a defrauded Long Island, New York charity, eventually led to a successful confidential resolution. Such eventual resolution took time and effort as can be seen from the Times Article.

We took the time and were not afraid to take on the process when we felt the process was unfair and not working. The firm is not afraid to spend the time in investigating and seeking the removal of arbitrators who may have conflicts of interest or who appear to be mis-classified as supposedly “public” arbitrators and we do not hesitate to deal with such issues again and again if necessary, if they arise in the same case and many times they unfortunately do. At the end of the day, in the event an arbitrator of concern stays on a given panel, they and our opponents are well aware about the issues that we have raised which have now been preserved for appellate review if needed.

As with the NY Times article we are also not shy about shedding light on situations where warranted. We well know that public focus on an issue of concern in a proceeding assists in leading all participants in an arbitration to act appropriately, provide full disclosures, and ultimately to a fairer hearing with fairer decisions along the way. Generally our opponents and FINRA (formerly the FINRA) are not fans of cases being highlighted in the media, as it makes it difficult to ignore or shove under the rug unexplainable or irrational decisions by the forum or the panel, or conflicts of interest/ mis-classified arbitrators which were not properly dealt with or even revealed. Thus, where needed and with the consent of our clients we do not hesitate to shed light on the situation and cooperate with members of the press who contact us regarding such issues.

Screening Madoff Cases

It is easy for legal counsel to be led astray in the current scandal as many in-experienced counsel will filed claims against Mr. Madoff and his funds directly which will likely lead to no recovery as one cannot seek water from a rock. Therefore the Meissner firm is taking the following approach to the Madoff matter:

1) Those that invested in the Madoff funds as a result of any recommendation or encouragement from a brokerage firm, licensed registered representative (stockbroker) who are member of the self regulatory securities arm FINRA (FINRA) – which may include Nomura Securities, BMP Paribas, Neue Private Bank, Union Bancaire, Bank Hapolim – we are accepting retention on these matters with the aim of pursuing significant arbitrations against the referring firm or the employer of the subject broker. As the Meissner firm represents individual investors, and has unmatched win statistics in arbitration we encourage anyone who is in this situation to contact our firm so that we may consider pursuing your claim as we have many times before. Generally the Meissner firm pursues these claims on a modified contingency fee basis although other fee arrangements may be made.

2) For those that invested directly in Madoff funds we are assisting them in the pursuit of filing SIPC claims. Such claims are very limited. The recovery is limited to $500,000 in securities and $100,000 in cash. However, even those amounts are not simple to recover as the vast majority of SIPC claims over the history of SIPC have been rejected. SIPC covers a very narrow scope of circumstances generally related to theft of securities or funds and/or unauthorized trading. Thus we are currently monitoring the uncovering of exactly what Mr. Madoff did so that we may attempt to submit a claim that will meet SIPC requirements. Generally, the Meissner firm accepts retention on an hourly fee basis for such assistance as, depending upon SIPC’s position, the legal time required may be minimal if SIPIC is flexible with this situation due to the magnitude.

3) Those that invested through a fund of fund, such as Fairfield Greenwich, Banco Santander, Fairfield Sentry, Ascot Partners, Tremont and lost significant funds we are considering legal action against such funds for failure to conduct due diligence. Such retention would be on an hourly basis. We are also working closely with a Class Action firm for those that wish to not file their own matter and do not wish to incur legal fees and are referring those individuals to such firm which will have no out of pocket costs to participants.

If you fall into any of the above categories we encourage you to contact our firm so that we may review your matter and see if we can assist you.