NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge has authorized the trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff's investment firm to hire a Canadian law firm to help track down the imprisoned Ponzi schemer's assets in Canada.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland late Wednesday approved the hiring of Montreal-based Kugler Kandestin LLP as special counsel to represent trustee Irving Picard in Canadian proceedings.
Picard last week said he had learned of what he believes to be "customer property located in Canada," and sought permission hire counsel to help find it.
The Securities Investor Protection Corp, a U.S. agency that helps recover assets from failed brokerages, hired Picard to recover assets for victims of Madoff's estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
As of January 18, Picard said he had approved 1,728 claims worth $4.84 billion, and rejected 9,970 claims. Hundreds of Madoff victims have complained that Picard, a partner at the law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP, is undervaluing their claims.
A hearing on Picard's methods is scheduled for February 2.
Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty last March and is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.
The case is Securities Investor Protection Corp v. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-1789.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel. Editing by Robert MacMillan