Meet the Mess, Cont'd -- Former Governor Cuomo Asked to Mediate Madoff Trustee's Lawsuit Against Mets Owners

Judge Burton Lifland, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the liquidation proceedings of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC ("BLMIS") made a shrewd decision last week in appointing, on his own initiative, former Governor Mario Cuomo to act as mediator in the lawsuit brought by Irving Picard, the BLMIS trustee, against Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, the owners of the New York Mets, and their families and affiliated enterprises (the "Wilpon/Katz Group")

Judge Lifland has a history of acting on his own to bring highly regarded individuals in to mediate seemingly intractable situations. Many years ago, for example, he asked former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to step into the Macy's chapter 11 case. Bringing in a neutral party of Cuomo's stature at this early stage can only help tone down the rhetoric on both sides and perhaps get a derailed settlement process back on track. 

A review of the 365 page complaint filed by Picard, unsealed last week after its contents were leaked to the news media, makes clear the enormous complexity of the case and the risks facing both sides. 

Although enormous media attention has focused on Picard's efforts to seek recovery of at least $300 million in "fictitious profits" and perhaps as much $1 billion for amounts withdrawn from BLMIS by the Wilpon/Katz Group, only $162 million represents fictitious profits over the six years prior to the bankruptcy case - the maximum "look back" period. Even if Picard is able to prove fully his allegations regarding the willful disregard by the Wilpon/Katz Group of the red flags concerning BLMIS, it would be an aggressive (and questionable) expansion of the fraudulent transfer provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and New York State law to recover any fictitious profits or other withdrawals going back more than six years. 

Read this article in its entirety at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP's Bankruptcy Law Insights blog

Read part one of this article

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