Madoff investor who lost $1.4B apparently committed suicide

ByABC News
December 23, 2008, 9:48 PM

NEW YORK -- The co-founder of a fund that invested $1.4 billion in disgraced financier Bernie Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme was found dead in his office Tuesday of an apparent suicide.

Paramedics responding to a Midtown Manhattan office at 7:50 a.m. found a body with no pulse later identified as Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, co-founder of Access International Advisors.

Detective Martin Speechley of the New York Police Department said that there was no suicide note but that there were lacerations on de la Villehuchet's arms, a box cutter and pills near his body, that one of his legs was up on the desk, and that a trash can was placed nearby, possibly to catch blood.

Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, said the autopsy on de la Villehuchet had been completed Wednesday. She said the medical examiner was awaiting toxicology reports before determining the cause of death.

French newspaper La Tribune reported de la Villehuchet committed suicide under pressure from the Madoff scandal.

Access International was one of the feeder funds into Luxalpha SICAV-American Selection, which invested solely with Madoff, the man who authorities allege operated a Ponzi scheme that lost more than $50 billion of investors' money. Access' investments with Madoff were reported at $1.4 billion, according to Infovest 21, a hedge fund newsletter. Access sent clients a letter in which it called the Madoff arrest on Dec. 11 "a shocking development," Bloomberg News reported.

Although Access raised money from European investors, de la Villehuchet operated the fund out of a Madison Avenue office just three blocks from New York's famed Lipstick building, where Madoff's company was based.

Access was one of the many that got snared in a scheme in which prosecutors say Madoff used money from new investors to pay off existing shareholders to make it appear he generated steady returns. The list of victims ranges from individual investors who have lost their life's savings, to charities of the rich and famous, to some of the world's biggest financial services firms. A handful of foundations have shut down after they lost endowments that had been invested with Madoff.