Although Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz are wealthy, they don’t know very much about investing their money or how it’s handled. At least that’s their story in a legal filing attempting to dismiss the Madoff trustee lawsuit against them for more than $1 billion.
The defendants have consistently stated that the trustee’s lawsuit is a work of fiction. But reading through the legal filing from the Mets owners tonight, I’d have to say that their side of the story doesn’t come across well.
I find it hard to believe that the Wilpons and Katz aren’t sophisticated investors and that’s the argument that they’re making. Anyone that controls billions of dollars makes it their business to be a sophisticated investor. Casting themselves as bumbling fools that happened to make more money than most people see in their lives is ridiculous.
The Mets owners need to get serious about settling this case. This stunt of a dismissal motion is nothing more than a PR tactic being used to try to fight the lawsuit through the media. If they don’t get serious about settling the case and solidifying their ownership position with the Mets, it’s going to continue to hurt the team in multiple ways. Notably, the players will have to continue to answer questions day after day about the team’s finances instead of the game on the field.
This “uncertainty” is going to continue as long as the owners continue to make statements like the following from Saul Katz:
“I don’t do well in the markets, the stock market,” Katz said. “I’m not good at it, it’s not my business. I don’t have an active account anywhere.”
Fred Wilpon was asked in a deposition if he knew how Madoff was able to make money investing:
“I’m not an investment person…so I wouldn’t have any kind of expertise.”
If this is the strategy that the Wilpons and Katz plan to employ, they’re in bigger trouble with this lawsuit than I thought they were. Playing dumb is never a good defense and for people that built an empire in New York it’s a really bad idea.