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Madoff trustee sues California attorney general

Harris attends a news conference to announce the creation of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in Los Angeles
Harris attends a news conference to announce the creation of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in Los Angeles

(Reuters) - The Bernard Madoff bankruptcy trustee has sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris to stop her alleged interference with his efforts to recover money for the swindler's former customers.

Irving Picard said the efforts by Harris and others to try recover money related to the estate of Stanley Chais, a Beverly Hills money manager who died in September 2010, threaten to reduce the amounts he might recover for victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Chais once managed money for Hollywood elite, and had been a close friend of Madoff since the 1960s.

In 2009, Picard and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Chais of sending client money to Madoff's firm despite red flags about the business, while withdrawing hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and his family.

Picard is seeking a court order to void lawsuits brought by Harris and four other plaintiffs related to the Chais estate, and to stop those parties from pursuing similar litigation.

He filed his request Wednesday night with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan, which oversees the trustee's liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

Harris' office did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Thursday morning.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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