Businessweek reports that the settlement between New York Mets owners and the trustee for Bernie Madoff fraud victims was announced by Judge Jed Rakoff just before a Manhattan trial was to begin. The $162 settlement includes a deal for Mets chief executive and co-owner Fred Wilpon and team President Saul Katz to personally pay $29 million.
The terms of the settlement allow the team three years before paying any money, and give the owners a chance to secure the money from their own claims against Madoff’s estate. According to the statement read by Judge Rakoff, trustee Irving Picard said “that he has reviewed the evidence and will no longer pursue the willful blindness claim against the defendants.” The owners contend they never knew about the fraudulent activities of Bernie Madoff, and said “We are not willfully blind. We never was. We acted in good faith.” Katz said, “We are very pleased to have this behind us. We have done everything in good faith. The settlement itself bears that out.”
The $162 million settlement includes $83.3 million of profits the owners received from Madoff.
Mario Cuomo, the former governor of New York who mediated the negotiations, said that the settlement now frees Picard to focus on the other 800 lawsuits filed against other Madoff profiteers. Cuomo said the settlement was “fair and reasonable, as fair and reasonable as it could be,” but Businessweek said he added, “Nobody gets everything they want in a settlement. But both sides helped their causes.”