Feb 21, 2011, 9:42 AM EST
Maybe Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz didn’t know anything about Bernie Madoff’s fraud, but after reading this in today’s New York Times do NOT tell me that they were “just like everyone else who was duped.” Because as far as I know, no one else who was duped served as a buffer between everyday investors and Madoff, shielding him from any inquiries:
Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz marveled at Mr. Madoff’s record of success and talked of returns that would consistently outperform the market. But to be among those referred by the Mets’ owners, one had to agree to odd and puzzling terms that restricted direct contact with or questioning of Mr. Madoff. Sterling Equities, the family company that owns the Mets, would administer all the referred accounts and handle the transactions between the investors and Mr. Madoff’s firm.
Those invited into this rarefied club — including relatives of Sterling management, an investment banker who is also a supper club entertainer, a technology entrepreneur and a theater industry executive — would not send money to Mr. Madoff. Instead, it would be filtered through the Sterling partner and the Mets board member Arthur Friedman, a certified public accountant with a law degree who served as the liaison to Mr. Madoff’s operation.
Even if they hadn’t a reasonable doubt about Madoff in the world, the fact is that Wilpon and Katz were not mere victims like others were. They were a key part of his operation, however unwitting to the fraud, and they had higher duties than did common investors, and thus they have a greater responsibility to the other investors.