Bernie Madoff is behind bars but the repercusions from his multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme continue. In California, Attorney General Jerry. Brown has filed suit against Stanley Chais, who Brown says directed hundreds of millions of dollars of his clients' investments to Madoff, while actively concealing the link between the two.
This suit seeks at least $25 million in civil penalties, restitution for victims, repayment of profits and compensation and an injunction prohibiting future violations of California law.
"For decades, Stanley Chais posed as an investment wizard, but in truth, he was nothing more than a Madoff middleman, channeling hundreds of millions of dollars in investor funds to his friend's Ponzi scheme," Brown said. "Chais intentionally concealed his close ties to Madoff, while collecting nearly $270 million in fees."
From the early 1970s until December 2008, Brown charges Chais directed hundreds of millions of dollars to Madoff through three funds -- the Brighton, Lambeth and Popham companies -- collectively known as the Chais Funds.
Chais, who operated out of Beverly Hills, attracted hundreds of investors to these funds by producing annual returns of 20 to 25 percent.
Chais claimed that he generated these high returns through superior skill and experience, use of advanced technology and connections to sophisticated brokers in New York. Brown says investors were discouraged from asking about his investment strategy and were led to believe that he utilized a complex and diversified approach involving arbitrage, derivates, stock, currency and futures trading.
In reality, the suit claims Chais turned over all of the Chais Funds' investments to Madoff, who relied on such feeder funds and middlemen to attract the cash flow needed to prop up his Ponzi scheme. In return, Madoff produced made-to-order returns.
Between 1999 and 2008, despite supposedly executing thousands of trades on behalf of the Chais Funds, Madoff did not report a loss on a single equities trade. The Chais Funds received improbably high and consistent returns of between 20 and 25 percent, with only three months of negative returns between 1996 and 2007.
For his services, Chais charged investors an annual fee of 25 percent on all profits. Over the past decade, Chais collected almost $270 million in fees, the complaint says.
Although Chais turned over all the Chais Funds' assets to Madoff, most investors had never heard of Madoff and were completely unaware of the connection between the two men until after the Ponzi scheme collapsed and their investments were lost.
Brown said the suit is the result of a seven-month investigation.
On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts and admitted to defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Federal prosecutors estimated client losses, which included fabricated gains, of almost $65 billion. On June 29, 2009, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.
On June 22, 2009, the SEC filed a complaint against Chais in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that he committed fraud by misrepresenting his role in managing the funds' assets and for distributing account statements that he should have known were false.