May 20, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT
Both the New York Times and the Post today run with the latest filing in the Bernie Madoff/Wilpon/Mets case. The allegation: in 2001 Wilpon and Katz went shopping for “fraud insurance,” and that by doing so it shows that they had reason to believe that Madoff was, in fact, a fraud, it says.
For those who forget, the trustee, Irving Picard, is claiming that because Wilpon and Katz “knew or should have known” that Madoff was a fraud, they are responsible to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars to Madoff victims, so this would be evidence supporting that, he claims.
Eh. Look, I’m still generally skeptical of claims by the Wilpons that they were babes in the woods here, but this “shopping for fraud insurance” allegation doesn’t do much to support that in my mind.
For one thing, they didn’t buy the insurance. If they thought there was a serious risk of Madoff’s pyramid crumbling down, wouldn’t they have?
And more to the point, isn’t shopping for insurance a sign of prudence? Just because I buy auto insurance doesn’t mean I’m gonna go crash my car into things. Just because I buy home owner’s insurance doesn’t mean I’m gonna burn the place down. I trust my doctor, but I’m damn glad he has malpractice coverage.
Insurance is just something you look into as a matter of course. You’d be shocked to see how many specialized insurance products are out there on the market. It’s almost as if insurance companies have a keen sense of how to prey on the insecurities of people in order to make a buck. They don’t mean anything in and of themselves.
So, sorry. If there were emails from back then saying “Hey, Fred! We all know that Madoff is a scam artist, so let’s buy some awesome insurance so we can skate!” fine, then it’s something. But the mere fact that someone was looking at this kind of insurance doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for me. At best it’s spice in the gumbo. It’s not the shrimp, and without any shrimp, it’s pretty useless.
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