February 14, 2009 / 12:15 AM / 10 years ago

British investor in Madoff scheme kills himself

LONDON (Reuters) - A former British soldier killed himself after losing his life savings in an alleged $50 billion (34 billion pounds) fraud run by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, the dead man’s son said.

Accused swindler Bernard Madoff exits the Manhattan federal court house in New York January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

William Foxton, 65, who had served in the British Army and more recently worked as a defence contractor in Afghanistan, died from a single bullet wound to the head in Southampton on Tuesday, police said.

“A pistol was recovered at the scene. Police do not believe the death to be suspicious,” a police statement said.

His son Willard said his father had returned from Afghanistan and revealed his life savings had been lost. He did not say how much had gone, but news reports said it was close to 1 million pounds.

“He came back and we were all very glad he was back and retiring and we were looking forward to him spending a long and happy retirement with us, but unfortunately very recently ... I got in contact with him to ask him some ordinary family stuff and halfway through the conversation he said: ‘Look, I’m really sorry, I can’t concentrate, I’m afraid I’ve lost everything, I’ve lost all the money, I might have to declare myself bankrupt’,” Willard Foxton told Sky news.

“He invested in hedge funds (and) without going into the names of the specific hedge funds, essentially these two hedge funds had taken the money, and as far as I can understand from news reports and the class action lawsuits being filed against them, they had taken all the money that was invested with them and then sunk that into Bernie Madoff’s fund.”

The BBC’s website said Foxton had invested his life savings in two Austrian-based hedge funds, but he discovered both funds had been closed and their funds invested with Madoff.

“I want Madoff and others involved to know that they have my father’s blood on their hands,” Willard Foxton was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying.

“I’m very angry. My first thought was to show up at Madoff’s trial in New York and throw my father’s medals in his face.”

William Foxton served with the Army until the mid-1970s, lost an arm in an explosion in 1976 and later joined the Sultan of Oman’s armed forces, where he rose to the rank of major, the newspaper said.

He also worked on United Nations humanitarian missions and, in the 1990s, led a European Commission monitoring mission in the Balkans, it said.

Madoff was charged in a criminal complaint in December with fraud, after U.S. federal authorities said he confessed to running a long-standing swindle that cost investors $50 billion.

Reporting by Adrian Croft and Frank Prenesti; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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