NEW YORK — About $355 million distributed last week to investors cheated in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme means over half of allowable claims have been paid in full, the trustee recovering money for investors announced Monday.
Trustee Irving Picard said everyone with an allowable claim of less than $976,000 has been fully paid as well.
The latest distribution from money generated through settlements with feeder funds was the fifth major payout since Picard was appointed to oversee the recovery of money after Madoff's December 2008 arrest. Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud several months later and was sentenced to 150 years in prison in North Carolina.
The money distributed Friday returned about 2.7 percent of the allowed claim in each individual account, the trustee said. The payouts ranged from $431 to $57.1 million, with the average being $330,000.
So far, Picard's office has recovered over $10.5 billion, with more than $7.2 billion paid out.
Investors lost about $20 billion over several decades as Madoff distributed statements saying the money entrusted to him by several thousand customers had more than tripled in value.
Picard said the money recovered for investors has exceeded efforts made on behalf of victims in prior Ponzi schemes.
"Every distribution of recovered funds marks another significant step forward for the victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme," Picard said.