Mets Owners Madoff

March 20, 2012 by staff 

Mets Owners Madoff, The owners of the New York Mets agreed to pay $162 million to settle a lawsuit by the trustee seeking money for the victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud, a deal that eases pressure on the owners of the cash-strapped baseball team.

The pact was announced in U.S. District Court in New York on Monday just as a trial was about to start. It was a victory for brothers-in-law Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and their family-run Sterling Equities real estate, baseball and hedge-fund empire.

They will not have to pay out any cash immediately and the trustee, Irving Picard, dropped his allegation that they turned a blind eye to Madoff’s fraud.

For the trustee, the settlement could provide a template for other cases still pending against hundreds of individuals, funds and banks such as HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and UBS AG .

Wilpon and Katz were accused of acting in bad faith in their dealings with Madoff over 25 years until December 2008. Their case would have been the first involving the imprisoned financier to go to trial.

The Mets, who live in the shadow of the much more successful, world-famous New York Yankees, have struggled in recent years. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been quoted as saying the team lost $70 million last year. Forbes magazine said in 2011 that the team was worth $747 million.

The settlement is a “very positive moment for the team and the Wilpon family,” said Robert Boland, academic chair at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports.

Beyond the Madoff fraud, the owners have dealt with a struggling team and a financial hit to their commercial real estate business.

“Solving one of those issues will make it easier,” he said.

Separately on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported the Mets closed a sale last week of 12 minority stakes in the team for $20 million apiece, or a total of $240 million, citing two sources with knowledge of the deals.

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