Bank blames Madoff scheme

AN AFRICAN development bank claims it lost about R179million in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme through investments made by an Austrian bank, a newspaper reported yesterday.

AN AFRICAN development bank claims it lost about R179million in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme through investments made by an Austrian bank, a newspaper reported yesterday.

According to Austria's Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten daily newspaper, 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 multi-billion dollar scam wiped out thousands of investors and charities worldwide.

Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesperson for the Vienna public prosecutor's office, said early last month that his office was helping the US justice department and Britain's serious fraud office in separate investigations of the bank and its chairperson, Sonja Kohn.

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 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. - Sapa-AFP

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