Bernard Madoff arrives at a federal court in Manhattan on March 12 to plead guilty to 11 charges.

Bernard Madoff arrives at a federal court in Manhattan on March 12 to plead guilty to 11 charges. (LOUIS LANZANO/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The trustee trying to recover money for investors cheated by Bernard Madoff is suing JP Morgan Chase for $6.4 billion, saying the bank had a central role in abetting the disgraced financier as he carried out his fraud.

Trustee Irving Picard announced Thursday the filing of the lawsuit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Picard alleges the bank ignored the fraud and collected fees and profits, even though it had well-documented suspicions about the scam.

The lawsuit seeks to recover at least $1 billion in fees and profits and $5.4 billion in damages to be distributed to Madoff victims. The victims lost billions after Madoff revealed in December 2008 that his investment company was a gigantic fraud.

Madoff is serving 150 years in federal prison for the fraud.