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Report: African bank lost money through Madoff

Report: African bank lost money through Madoff

An African development bank claims it lost ⁈lion ($22.8 million) in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme through investments made by an Austrian bank, a newspaper reported Thursday.
According to the regional Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten daily, the Central African States Development Bank claims it invested the money in Bank Austria, which then placed it in Madoff funds via the former Bank Medici.
Bank Medici disclosed in December that it had suffered huge losses it blamed on Madoff, whose multibillion-dollar scam wiped out thousands of investors and charities worldwide.
Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the Vienna public prosecutor's office, said in early July that his office was helping the U.S. Justice Department and Britain's Serious Fraud Office in separate investigations of the bank and its chairwoman, Sonja Kohn.
Both also have been the focus of a fraud investigation in Austria since February, Jarosch has said, stressing that Kohn has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Bank Medici, which recently changed its name to 20.20 Medici AG, has vehemently disputed that Kohn had personal dealings with Madoff and has repeatedly stressed her innocence.
In an e-mail Thursday, a spokesperson of the former Bank Medici disputed any involvement.
"Former Bank Medici AG had no relationship whatsoever with BDEAC," the e-mail said, referring to the African development bank by its French acronym. "No money of BDEAC was invested in a Madoff-affected fund via former Bank Medici AG."
In a letter to Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell, Pacifique Issoibeka, the Republic of Congo's finance minister, said the development bank now wants compensation and is holding Austria indirectly responsible, the newspaper reported.
In his letter, Issoibeka reportedly said the development bank had not been consulted about the Madoff investment and that attempts to deal directly with Bank Austria about the loss had proven futile.
The Brazzaville-based bank's prime shareholders include the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.
Austrian Finance Ministry spokesman Harald Waiglein confirmed that Issoibeka had been in touch but declined to provide more details.
Bank Austria spokesman Martin Halama said he could not comment on the report or even confirm that the BDEAC was or had been a client because he was bound by Austria's bank secrecy regulations.
Bank Austria is a unit of Italy's UniCredit SpA and held a 25 percent stake in Bank Medici.


Updated : 2021-03-09 16:53 GMT+08:00