The trustee recovering money for the victims of Bernard Madoff's epic fraud sued Sonja Kohn, founder of Austria's Medici Bank, accusing her of playing a major role in the scheme. The lawsuit seeks $19.6 billion in damages.

The amount sought in the lawsuit was among the largest filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York by court-appointed trustee Irving Picard in his bid to collect Madoff money.

Picard, liquidator of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, has filed a blizzard of suits in recent weeks to meet a mid-December legal deadline, the second anniversary of Madoff's arrest.

For more than twenty years, Kohn masterminded a vast illegal scheme to exploit her privileged relationship with Madoff to feed over $9.1 billion of other people's money into his Ponzi scheme, the lawsuit filed on Friday said. The illegal scheme enriched Kohn, her family, and scores of other individuals and entities, including the largest banks in Austria and Italy, at the expense of the BLMIS estate and on the backs of Madoff's victims.

(Reporting by Grant McCool, editing by Dave Zimmerman)