Austrian fund manager Sonja Kohn did not receive any kickbacks from Bernard Madoff to steer Bank Medici customer funds to the swindler's investment business, a Medici lawyer said on Friday.
There were no Madoff payments to Kohn. There were no kickbacks, lawyer Andreas Theiss told Reuters.
Theiss reiterated prior statements that Kohn, whose Bank Medici ran several funds that funneled at least $3.3 billion to Madoff, was one of Madoff's biggest victims.
He was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that said Kohn was under investigation by U.S., UK and Austrian prosecutors who believe she was paid more than $40 million in kickbacks to steer investors to the jailed swindler's funds.
The newspaper said prosecutors believe Madoff paid kickbacks to Kohn through separate companies she controlled. Theiss said he did not know the companies mentioned, but said Kohn did not have an operating role in any of them.
Kohn owns 75 percent of Medici, which has renamed itself 20.20 Medici AG. UniCredit SpA holds the other 25 percent stake.
The Journal said that details of the Kohn investigations are contained in court affidavits and documents collected by Austrian prosecutors.
U.S. and UK prosecutors filed the affidavits to request information from their Austrian counterparts to further their own investigations, the Journal said. The separate probes are at an early stage, the newspaper said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, which is investigating the Madoff criminal case in the United States, declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for the Vienna state prosecutors confirmed that U.S. and UK authorities had requested information on Kohn, but declined to say what the request was about.
She said that the Austrian investigation into allegations that Kohn defrauded investors was still ongoing.
Medici was investment manager of the Herald Lux and Herald U.S. funds, which had $2.1 billion under management before Madoff's scheme collapsed upon his arrest last December. It also distributed the Thema International fund, which had $1.1 billion under management with Madoff.
Kohn has previously denied receiving payments from Madoff, in response to a February complaint filed by the Massachusetts Secretary of State that said Cohmad Securities, a brokerage co-owned by Madoff, had relayed $526,000 to her.
Investors are suing Medici in Austria and the United States. Some of the lawsuits contend that Kohn was implicated in Madoff's scheme or that she should have grown suspicious of his steady performance and should have warned investors.
Madoff was sentenced to the maximum 150 years in prison on Monday by a New York federal judge for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, a scam in which he used money deposited by newer investors to pay earlier ones. He admitted misusing client funds and not trading any securities for years.
(Reporting by Martha Graybow and Boris Groendahl)