Santander ex-hedge fund boss is facing charges on Madoff

MANUEL ECHEVERRIA, the ex-chief executive of Banco Santander&rsquo;s hedge-fund unit Optimal, was yesterday charged by a Geneva court with the &ldquo;dishonest management&rdquo; of client funds which had been invested with fraudster Bernie Madoff.<br /><br />Echeverria, who is one of the most senior wealth managers facing charges in relation to the Madoff affair, was charged in August with mismanaging funds. <br /><br />Santander&rsquo;s European and Latin American clients were among the worst hit by Madoff&rsquo;s $64.8bn (&pound;38bn) Ponzi scheme. They had &euro;2.33bn (&pound;1.2bn) in funds at Santander &ndash; Europe&rsquo;s second-largest bank by market value &ndash; via Optimal, which were being managed by Madoff when the Ponzi scheme was exposed.<br /><br />The main argument against Echeverria is that he was rewarded with financial commissions as a result of the Madoff investments, but misled investors by wrongly claiming to have conducted adequate due diligence on Madoff&rsquo;s operations.<br /><br />Echeverria has denied any wrongdoing.<br /><br />Santander yesterday reiterated its January statement that it had &ldquo;acted at all times with due diligence in the management of its clients&rsquo; investments&rdquo;.<br />