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Madoff-hit fund manager ends life

December 24, 2008 18:40 IST

A French fund manager, who lost more than $ 1.4 billion in the multi-billion-dollar Bernard Madoff scandal, was found dead in his Manhattan office in New York and is believed to have committed suicide.

Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, 65, was found sitting on his desk and had apparently slashed his arms, biceps and wrist with box cutter after taking an overdose of sleeping pills and had bled to death.

Villehuchet was co-founder of Access International, a company that raised funds on the European markets. He lost over $ 1.4 billion of clients' money and much of his own to alleged swindler Madoff, who ran a fraud-hit investment scheme.

The cause of his death was not officially released, though police sources say it appears to be a case of suicide.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, however, said there was no suicide note.

The death of the leading Wall Street fund manager added a new dimension to the ongoing investigation into activities of Madoff, who authorities say had confessed to running a $ 50 billion Ponzi scheme. He remained under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment.

The investors, who trusted their money with Madoff, are unlikely to recover anything, authorities said.

Madoff has run his Ponzi scheme for more than 30 years, attracting investors by offering high rates of return and then using the money of new investors to pay off the older ones. But trouble started with the economic slowdown as demands were made for return of the principal and new investors were difficult to come by.

ABC News quoted one of the former Nasdaq chairman Madoff's client as saying that he was so much sought after as recently as two months ago that he was turning down potential new business and his handful of high worth clients received double digit returns irrespective of whether the market was up and down.

Madoff's firm was the 23rd largest on Nasdaq in October, handling a daily average of about 50 million shares a day and the Bloomberg News reported that it specialised in handling orders form online brokers in some of the largest US companies, including General Electric and Citigroup Inc.

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