ZURICH (Reuters) - A former Swiss fund manager found guilty last year of cheating 2,000 investors out of around 800 million Swiss francs ($803 million) was ordered to reimburse one group of victims 207 million francs by a court on Thursday.
Nearly 1,200 investors were demanding around 420 million francs in compensation from Dieter Behring, who was dubbed by media as Switzerland's Bernie Madoff, after the American swindler.
Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court made the award. A court spokesman did not specify how many investors would be compensated, but the Aargauer Zeitung reported that 816 investors were awarded compensation while 373 more were told to pursue civil court claims.
It remains unclear how much money the investors will actually see because their claims exceed what authorities seized from Behring.
Behring was sentenced to 5-1/2 years in jail in September, more than a decade after his investment empire collapsed. He was accused of fraud and money laundering.
Behring, who has denied wrongdoing, is appealing against his conviction and the compensation order.
Behring and several partners ran a trading system from Basel, Switzerland, that he said produced "above-average results" for investors before it collapsed in 2004.
He was arrested that year, initiating what became one of the Swiss attorney general's longest-running investigations.
Prosecutors accused Behring of raking in hundreds of millions of francs by promising rich returns to investors via an automated trading system.
"We regret the large losses of those damaged ... but we also have lost everything that we had built up in the previous decades," Behring had wrote on a website he created to outline his arguments and share hundreds of related documents.
He has said other people took the money after being consumed by what he called a "insatiable greed".
($1 = 0.9963 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Toby Davis)