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July 29, 2009 7:48 PM

Madoff Whistleblower's Lawyer Branches Out on Own

Posted by Brian Baxter

Gaytri Kachroo

While Bernard Madoff busies himself getting buff in prison and his wife grapples with a $45 million civil suit filed by a trustee for her husband's bankrupt investment firm, Gaytri Kachroo waits for a train in Washington, D.C., contemplating her future.

The former McCarter & English international practice chair and attorney for Harry Markopolos, the Boston forensic accountant that tried to warn the SEC about Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme, left the firm three weeks ago for conflicts reasons. But while Kachroo is now flying solo, her role in the continuing-to-unfold Madoff mess is far from over.

"I'm looking at a number of class and individual actions principally against feeder funds," says Kachroo, adding that those types of matters weren't possible at a defense-side firm like McCarter & English.

At the moment Kachroo is in D.C. assisting SEC Inspector General David Kotz on a report that will highlight regulatory failures by the agency in the Madoff matter and recommend changes.

Kachroo has collected roughly 25 affidavits for the forthcoming report from individuals that invested between $50-$70 million with Madoff through a now-defunct firm called Avellino & Bienes.

Run by accountants Frank Avellino and Michael Bienes, the investors claimed they relied on a 1992 SEC statement that there was no fraud at the firm, which was later revealed to have funneled more than $400 million to Madoff. (Avellino's attorney in that SEC investigation was Dickstein Shapiro's Ira Lee Sorkin--Madoff's current lawyer.)

Kachroo says that continuing to unravel Madoff's massive fraud is extremely complicated. She cites several Japanese clients that put money in a Swiss bank account held by a private Scottish bank that sent the money to an offshore firm investing in Madoff through the much-maligned Fairfield Greenwich funds.

"And then they ask me if they should file a SIPC claim," Kachroo says. "It's kind of a laughable situation. Do they have a SIPC claim if they're not directly [investing] in Madoff? They're certainly not going to get anything through SIPC so the question really is which class action they should join."

With so many of her client's in rather unique situations, Kachroo says it has been difficult finding similarly situated plaintiffs actions to join. As a result, Kachroo says she's been working on devising an international response to investigating complex financial frauds.

The Am Law Daily previously reported on the effort by Kachroo and other lawyers worldwide to establish a global alliance and push for an international financial court. Kachroo says she has a bill supported by Democratic representative Michael Arcuri to set up a congressional commission to study the issue.

Kachroo says the SEC has also been supportive of her efforts, and she's collaborated with several academics from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School on international reform initiatives. She and the rest of her alliance of international lawyers hope to pitch their cause to various countries at the next G20 summit in Pittsburgh this September. (The American Lawyer's senior international correspondent Michael Goldhaber will have a story on the proposed World Financial Court in a future issue of the magazine.)

While rumors of a book and Hollywood film deal for Markopolos and his team--including longtime friend and lawyer Kachroo--have been bandied about on the blogs, Kachroo declines to comment on any rumored deal.

"I'm just trying to assist anybody that I can right now," she says. "And take things one day at a time."

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I am the coordinator for BernardMadoffVictims.org Coalition, a group consisting of more than 400 former Madoff Investors who have come together to find justice and restitution.

I am hoping to contact Ms. Kachroo regarding her efforts.

We have many indirect investors whose money entered the Madoff web through feeder funds.

Ms. Kachroo is looking to help as many as possible, and we have many that may benefit from her efforts.

I would greatly appreciate it if she could contact me at
info@bernardmadoffvictims.org

Thank you,
Ronnie Sue Ambrosino
Coordinator
BernardMadoffVictims.org Coalition

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