Son: UK veteran killed himself after Madoff loss

  • Business
  • Saturday, 14 Feb 2009

LONDON: A retired British army major killed himself after losing his life savings in the alleged fraud perpetrated by U.S. financier Bernard Madoff, his son said Friday.

Willard Foxton told The Associated Press that, at first, he felt so angry after his father William Foxton's death he wanted to attend Madoff's possible trial in the United States to fling the veteran's medals in his face.

Now he just wants Madoff to know what happened to his father.

"I'm sure Mr. Madoff thinks it was just a con got out of hand. He thinks it's all about money - I'm sure that's what he feels," Foxton said in a telephone interview.

"I want him to see that people have died as a result of what he's done."

Police in the English town of Southampton say William Foxton, 65, died from a single gunshot to head on Tuesday and that a pistol was recovered at the scene.

An inquest still needs to determine the cause of death, but police in the town, 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of London, say the shooting was not suspicious.

Willard Foxton said it was suicide.

Foxton, 28, said his father told him that he had lost all his money in a Madoff-linked fund about a week before the shooting.

"He was a bit distracted," Willard Foxton said.

"He said: 'I can't really concentrate, I've lost everything in these bloody Bernie Madoff hedge funds."'

William Foxton, who served in the French Foreign Legion and rose to the rank of major in the British army, lost an arm during service in the military.

He retired in the 1970s.

His son said he did not know the exact circumstances of the injury, explaining that his father told him little about his time in the army.

William later threw himself into humanitarian work, spending the 1990s and early 2000s in the Balkans, where he was a member of the European Commission Monitoring Mission and spent time as a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

He also did work for the German charity Arbeiter Samariter Bund, his son said.

Foxton was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1999 for his work in the former Yugoslavia.

His son said he had been investing his life savings in the Herald USA Fund and Herald Luxemburg Fund, both of which suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses as a result of Madoff's alleged scam.

Foxton said he doesn't yet know how much his father lost, but thought it could be in the high six figures.

Foxton's isn't the first suicide linked to the alleged fraud.

In December, 65-year-old French financier Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet slit his wrists after losing $1.4 billion he had invested with Madoff.

He was among the thousands of clients allegedly swindled out of billions of dollars by Madoff in a mammoth pyramid scheme - a word used to describe a scam in which early investors are paid with money raised from new investors.

Madoff was arrested in December as the scheme unraveled and he remains confined to his Manhattan penthouse under house arrest.

"God knows how many people have been affected by this," Foxton said.

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