About $1 billion has been recovered to pay back the defrauded customers of swindler Bernard Madoff, but settlements in the coming weeks will boost the number significantly, the trustee winding down the Madoff firm said on Thursday.

Trustee Irving Picard told reporters on a conference call that he has filed lawsuits to recover $10.1 billion in assets from Wall Street's biggest investment fraud.

This is too soon to project or speculate the final amount that can be recovered from a fraud of up to $65 billion, Picard said.

He added that over the course of the next few weeks, if we get some settlements, the number will certainly go up significantly from the $1 billion level, but I would not want to get into specific numbers.

Madoff, 71, was arrested in December and he pleaded guilty in March to operating a huge Ponzi scheme, in which early investors are paid with money from new clients.

He is jailed awaiting sentencing, which was postponed on Thursday to June 29 from June 16, and he is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The case is Securities Investor Protection Corp v Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities 08-01789 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Brian Moss)