IRA Trustees Weren’t Liable for Madoff Losses

A district court has dismissed all claims brought by holders of self-directed individual retirement accounts (IRAs) against the IRA trustees for losses incurred by the IRAs for investments with Bernard Madoff’s firm. A number of individuals owned self-directed IRAs with IRA agreements that clearly stated that they were solely responsible for making investment decisions in connection with the funds in their IRAs, and that the IRA trustees would not provide any investment advice. Pursuant to instructions given by these IRA owners, the IRA trustees sent IRA funds to Bernard Madoff’s brokerage firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, for investment in securities. These funds were ultimately lost in Madoff’s ponzi scheme. The IRA owners sought to hold the IRA trustees responsible for their role in the losses that the IRAs sustained. The action asserted claims under federal common law based on Internal Revenue Code sections governing IRAs, and state law negligence, contract, and unjust enrichment claims. However, the court rejected all such claims.

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