Mets' Owners Swing for the Fences Against Madoff Trustee

Mets' Owners Swing for the Fences Against Madoff Trustee

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Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and their families and affiliated enterprises (the "Wilpon/Katz Group") last week formally requested the dismissal of the adversary proceeding commenced by Irving Picard, the trustee of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC ("BLMIS"). In a two hour hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, the Wilpon/Katz Group argued that Picard has no basis to seek the return of approximately $1 billion received over the years by the Wilpon/Katz Group from BLMIS. 

Picard's complaint seeks to avoid all transfers made by BLMIS to the Wilpon/Katz Group as "fraudulent conveyances", and to recover such amounts on behalf of the BLMIS estate. Both the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and New York State law permit a trustee to recover transfers made up to six years prior to the bankruptcy case by an insolvent debtor for less than "reasonably equivalent value" or which were made with fraudulent intent. However, a "good faith" transferee can retain such property or funds to the extent it gave value to the debtor in exchange for the challenged transfer, such as the satisfaction of antecedent debt.    

The Wilpon/Katz Group argued that "reasonably equivalent value" existed for the $300 million of fictitious profits that the Wilpon/Katz Group received from BLMIS. Since the account statements issued by BLMIS prior to the discovery of Madoff's fraud evidenced substantial account balances, the Wilpon/Katz Group contends that such payments constituted the satisfaction of antecedent debt as reflected by those statements. Unfortunately for the Wilpon/Katz Group, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last week squarely rejected the ability of Madoff investors to rely on the fabricated account statements for the purpose of asserting claims against the BLMIS estate, and it is highly unlikely that Judge Rakoff would view the account statements any differently in this context.   

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

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