Madoff trustee seeks OK to start paying victims

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A court-appointed trustee asked a federal bankruptcy judge to allow victims of Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme to start recovering some of their losses.

The trustee, Irving Picard, filed a motion with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan on Wednesday to make an initial $272 million distribution to former customers of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

"This initial distribution represents a significant milestone in the trustee's recovery efforts," David Sheehan, Picard's lawyer, said in a statement. "We can now begin to return stolen funds to their rightful owners."

Much of the money that Picard believes should go to former Madoff customers has been tied up in litigation.

Madoff, 73, was arrested on December 11, 2008. He is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)