Wednesday, January 7, 2009

‘Austria’s Woman on Wall Street’ on the Run?

By The Staff at

Sonja Kohn may be literally running for her life.

The woman once known here as "Austria’s woman on Wall Street" has disappeared. Kohn collected more than $2 billion from rich investors in Russia and across Europe for Bernard Madoff through her firm, Bank Medici. Touting her connections, she promised investors entrée to bigger fish in the finance world, including Madoff. Some say it’s not out of the question that she’s hiding from Russian clients (do we dare say, perhaps, the Russian mob?) who trusted her with their cash and have had their wallets hit even harder by the Russian stock market and plummeting commodity prices.

"With Russian oligarchs as clients, she might have reason to be afraid," a Viennese banker who knew Kohn and her husband told The New York Times.

This has left Bank Medici – which funneled money to the alleged ponzi schemer Madoff — in the hands of Austrian regulators. People who know her are even afraid to talk on the record, since being linked to Madoff these days isn’t, exactly, the best idea. A Bank Medici spokeswoman characterized Kohn, who has also served as an adviser to Austria’s economic affairs minister, foreign affairs minister and the Vienna Stock Exchange, as a "victim," but wouldn’t say where Kohn was.

Bank Medici had $2.1 billion in exposure to Madoff’s investment securities through hedge funds run by the bank, but it says it had no liquidity problems.


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