France's prosecutor has asked an investigating judge to question jailed swindler Bernard Madoff and Swiss bank UBS as part of a probe of investor losses from Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, a judicial source told Reuters.
The source said the prosecutor's written request, which may or may not be accepted by the judge, said UBS had to answer to claims it had "cheated" French clients by sponsoring a Luxembourg-registered fund, Luxalpha, which for years fed assets directly to Madoff without saying so in the prospectus.
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These claims also form part of an ongoing U.S. lawsuit against UBS pursued by Irving Picard, the trustee seeking money for victims of the Madoff fraud. The bank has always denied the allegations.
Madoff was arrested in December 2008 and pleaded guilty three months later to running a giant Ponzi scheme. The 74-year-old is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.
Madoff's investors included L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in France.
A long-running French probe of the affair has so far failed to result in any charges.
(Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Dan Grebler)