Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Madoff was an Integral Part of Mets Business Plan

According to Serge Kovalevski and David Waldstein of the New York Times, Bernie Madoff wasn't just the man with whom Mets owner Fred Wilpon invested significant sums of money.  He was an integral part of the Mets business plan.
"When the Mets negotiated their larger contracts with star players — complex deals with signing bonuses and performance incentives — they sometimes adopted the strategy of placing deferred money owed the players with Mr. Madoff’s investment firm. They would have to pay the player, but the owners of the club would be able to make money for themselves in the meantime. There never seemed to be much doubt about that, according to several people with knowledge of the arrangements.
“Bernie was part of the business plan for the Mets,” a former employee of the club said.
But Mr. Wilpon involved more than his team with Mr. Madoff.  He also encouraged certain friends to invest."
While I recommend you read the entire article, that excerpt pretty much speaks for itself.  I do wonder why two incredibly smart businessmen like Wilpon and Katz never questioned why their investments with Madoff always increased in value.  Throughout the article, several sources spoke about Wilpon bragging about receiving anywhere from a 15-18% return on their investments with Madoff.  Whenever someone questioned him as to how Madoff did it, the answer was always along the lines of, "He's smarter than everyone else."  While that statement wasn't exactly a lie (he did manage to steal over $65B before finally getting caught in 2008), even the smartest guys lose money in the stock market every so often.  Anyone who follows the stock market (even casually) knows that the market not only incredibly volatile, but also impossible to "time." 

As long-term players in the stock market, both Wilpon and Katz should have known that no one, regardless of their intelligence and business savvy, is that good when it comes to investments.  While it's certainly possible they knew the Madoff's operation was fraudulent (hence the reason for their lack of questioning), I haven't seen sufficient evidence provided either way implicating their guilt or innocence.  That said, it certainly does seem strange that their dealings with Madoff continued long after suspicions about his deals had been made.  Either way, it's pretty clear that Madoff had a great deal of impact and influence on the Mets financial decision making process. 

Stay tuned guys.  This story is likely to produce a lot more low hanging fruits in the near future.

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