Serious Fraud Office in Britain announced Thursday that is opening an investigation into Bernard Madoff's business operations in the country."The focus of the investigation will be on U.K. victims and any criminal offences that might have been committed in the U.K.," the agency said in a statement.Its decision follows the receipt of an report given to agency by Grant Thornton, which is acting as the provisional liquidator in Britain for the operations of Madoff, the New-York based financier accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.The British agency added that it was "liaising closely with law enforcement counterparts in the United States and with the City of London Police."The Serious Fraud Office is a government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud. It is part of the criminal justice system."We will work closely with other law enforcement agencies to discover the truth behind the collapse of these huge financial structures. the director of the agency, Richard Alderman, said in the statement.
The department appealed to investors and "other stakeholders involved with the Madoff U.K. businesses" to come forward and help them.It gave no other details about the length of scope of its inquiry.Madoff, who is said to have confessed last month to a huge Ponzi scheme, is under 24-hour house arrest in his $7 million Manhattan apartment, having posted a $10 million bail.The extent of his financial holdings in Europe has been emerging in recent weeks.Authorities on Austria have taken control of Bank Medici, a small merchant bank which disclosed that $2.1 billion in client funds had been invested with Madoff,Larger European banks like HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland lent funds to money management firms, which leveraged larger returns on their investments with Madoff.In return, these big banks received collateral in the form of assets in Madoff's firm, which are most likely worthless.A French aristocrat, René-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, saw his fortune and his loved ones' money disappear along with his clients' when he lost $1.4 billion he had invested with Bernard Madoff.

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