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Madoff judge freezes Beverly Hills money manager's assets

October 8, 2009 |  1:51 pm

A bankruptcy judge in New York has frozen the assets of a Beverly Hills money manager accused of funneling hundreds of millions of his clients’ dollars to a Ponzi scheme operated by disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff.

The order, signed Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, prohibits Stanley Chais from accessing funds held at Goldman Sachs, City National Bank or any other institution. The order stands until an Oct. 22 hearing, at which the freeze could be extended.

Lifland permitted Chais, 83, and his wife, Pamela, to access $100,000 during that period -- $50,000 for legal expenses and $50,000 to use as they wish.

Irving Picard, a trustee representing victims of Madoff’s $65-billion Ponzi scheme, has accused Chais of collecting more than $800 million from his dealings with Madoff. Picard has sued Chais in an attempt to collect funds to return to Madoff investors.

A forensic accountant retained by Picard, Matthew Greenblatt, has alleged that Madoff transferred $45 million to Chais’ Goldman Sachs and City National accounts in 2008, just as the scheme was collapsing. He said Madoff transferred more than $1 billion to Chais and his wife from 1995 to 2008.

Chais’ attorney, Eugene Licker, said his client didn't know that Madoff was operating a scam. Licker said that Chais and his family were among the largest victims of Madoff’s fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown have also sued Chais in an attempt to recover stolen money for Madoff victims. 

-- Stuart Pfeifer