Search for Madoff's Billions Leads to Switzerland, Africa

Bernie's books: Investigators discover $10 billion in suspect entries.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 7:29 PM

February 20, 2009— -- Two suspect entries in excess of $5 billion in the books of confessed fraudster Bernard Madoff have given investigators hope they may be on the trail of some of the money he allegedly stole in what has been called the world's largest financial fraud.

One trail involves secret accounts set up in Switzerland and at an obscure bank in Africa, investigators and lawyers in the case told ABC News.

The investigators and lawyers also tell ABC News that Madoff may have used the name of a dead client, Norman Levy, as well as the prominent Picower Foundation to disguise transfers of more than $10 billion to secret accounts he set up overseas.

Watch the full report Friday on World News with Charles Gibson at 6:30 p.m. ET and 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET

A lawyer who represents both the Levy family and the Picower Foundation, William Zabel, said neither had ever received a $5 billion disbursement or anything close to that amount.

In fact, Zabel said, both families lost millions invested with Madoff. The Picower Foundation and a foundation now run by Levy's family were both forced to close because of their losses.

Investigators caution that the leads could prove to be difficult because Madoff has yet to fully cooperate in the search for the missing billions or in revealing who else may have been involved in the massive fraud.

"Everything he says is a lie, and we can't count on the veracity of any of his statements or his books," said one of the investigators who has seen the documents. "These five billion dollar entries could also be the way he balanced his books for his losses," said the investigator.

In his confession to the FBI in December, Madoff said he acted alone and that all of the money was gone, that "nothing was left."