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Madoff kin and former workers sued for $69 million

By Rich Barbieri, deputy managing editor

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The court-appointed trustee trying to recover money stolen by Bernard Madoff has sued the Ponzi con's relatives and former employees in a bid for $69 million.

Trustee Irving Picard said he brought 40 lawsuits on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. He filed 22 suits against relatives of Madoff and his wife, Ruth. The other 18 cases were filed against former employees of Madoff's company.

The defendants had among them 66 accounts through which the $69 million was allegedly diverted to Madoff and others, according to Picard.

"The [lawsuits] are a continuation of our recovery efforts against the Madoff relatives and employees who were closest to the center of the fraud and who were, in many cases, among those who benefited most from the Ponzi scheme," said Picard.

Earlier last week, Picard sued UBS (UBS) AG for $2 billion, accusing the Swiss financial firm of participating in Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

As of Nov. 19, in the most recent tally available, the trustee had approved a total of 2,305 claims from victims, totaling nearly $5.8 billion in damages.

Madoff, 72, pleaded guilty in March 2009 to 11 counts related to running the largest Ponzi scheme in history and was sentenced to 150 years. He is incarcerated at a medium security federal prison in Butner, N.C.

Using his investment firm as a front, Madoff claimed to be investing his clients' money. He kept the fraud going by using deposits from new clients to provide so-called returns to more mature clients. But in reality, he was stealing the money and there were no returns.

-- CNN's Miguel Susana contributed to this report. To top of page

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