Mets Mess Reveals Wall Street’s Disregard for Truth

The string of allegations about the deep, intertwined connections between the New York Mets and Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion fraud revealed in last week’s lawsuit makes one shudder. The team and the individuals who own and run the baseball team, namely the Wilpon family, had hundreds of accounts with Madoff, allegedly pulling out $300 million in profits over 25 years from the Ponzi scheme.

The trustee, Irving Picard, wants that money back. Hence the lawsuit, which claims the Wilpons and their business partners, as sophisticated investors, should have known about the fraud; or they simply chose to look the other way when it came to Madoff’s implausible investment returns.

On top of paying back the $300 million, the Wilpons potentially face paying hundreds of millions in damages beyond those alleged profits.

But the trustee’s lawsuit goes far beyond the details of one group’s connections and business dealings with Madoff. The suit reveals engrossing details about the horrifying way Wall Street conducts itself, and paints in neon the fantastic disregard Wall Street has for the mainstream investor.

It is becoming more apparent that Wall Street knew about Madoff’s scam, but ignored any moral or ethical responsibility to do anything about it. In this instance, Merrill Lynch was apparently aware of Madoff’s dirty dealings, but sat on the knowledge instead of alerting the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission about the fraud.

When it came to investing with Madoff, Merrill Lynch, it appears, had a huge red stop sign it flashed, but only to clients.

Merrill Lynch acquired a 50% non-controlling stake of a hedge fund owned by the Wilpons and their business associates in 2007.

The hedge fund, called Sterling Stamos, had previously warned Mets executives about investing with Madoff, according to the suit.  And then, after the acquisition, Merrill Lynch repeated those same warnings to Mets executives on several occasions. For, you see, Madoff would not pass Merrill Lynch’s due diligence protocols, the lawsuit alleges.

Ivy Asset Management also had strong suspicions of fraud or illegality about Madoff and told Mets executives about their concerns, according to the lawsuit.

Last year, then New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued Ivy Asset Management and two of its former senior officers, claiming the men learned “disturbing facts” about Madoff’s investment firm but “hid the truth” from clients to whom they recommended Mr. Madoff, according to the Wall Street Journal.

And on and on and on.

We can make no judgment about the Wilpons or other investors who may have profited from the scam. Only in their hearts do those Madoff investors know the truth. (The Wilpons claim they have seen paper losses from their phantom investment of $500 million.)

But the fact that the biggest, most important firm on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch, along with other investment professionals, had suspicions of Madoff and never made a peep is disturbing, if not dumbfounding. The members of the exclusive, elite club of Wall Street insiders knew something was rotten, and did nothing about it except protect their own clients. For warning their clients, they should be commended. For allegedly allowing a fraud to continue, they should be ashamed.

About Jacob H. Zamansky 57 Articles

Jacob (”Jake”) H. Zamansky is one of the country’s foremost authorities on securities arbitration law, the legal recourse for investors claiming broker wrongdoing, or for brokers claiming wrongful termination or other misconduct by their employer. Zamansky & Associates, the New York-based law firm he founded, represents both individuals and institutions in complex securities, hedge fund, and employment arbitrations.

Mr. Zamansky was at the forefront of recent efforts to “clean up” Wall Street. In 2001, he successfully sued former Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget on behalf of a New York pediatrician misled by Blodget’s stock research. The case’s successful resolution was the catalyst for New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to investigate the conflicts of interest on Wall Street and resulted in the well-reported $1.4 billion Global Settlement, which included many of the biggest names on Wall Street.

More recently, Mr. Zamansky is one of the leading litigators and opinion leaders of the subprime mortgage crisis and the related hedge fund collapses, representing both investors and mortgage borrowers who were defrauded by Wall Street firms and mortgage lenders. Among Mr. Zamansky’s early actions is filing the first arbitration case on behalf of institutional and high net worth investors against Bear Stearns Asset Management with regard to the two hedge funds which collapsed as a result of exposure to subprime mortgage backed securities. He also has filed claims on behalf of individual investors victimized by brokers that steered their portfolios into unsuitable subprime stocks and mortgage borrowers who were fraudulently coerced into inappropriate mortgage and investment transactions.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Zamansky worked for more than 30 years as a litigator, including positions at Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP. His tenure also included serving as a federal prosecutor with the Federal Trade Commission.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Zamansky has been a frequent expert commentator on CNBC, CNN, and FOX News and has published opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and USA Today. He is regularly quoted and his cases have been chronicled in major financial and news publications including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Fortune and Forbes. He is a frequent lecturer for industry and legal groups around the country. He also writes a blog that can be viewed here.

Visit: Zamansky & Associates

4 Comments on Mets Mess Reveals Wall Street’s Disregard for Truth

  1. Great article. The Trustee is furthering the damage. He is defending an institution and manipulating the law to help get them out of their legal obligations. But I guess that’s what lawyers do.

    SIPC should be forced to honor the protection afforded in their charter. The government nor the taxpayer should pay the bill. SIPC should levy a special assessment on their member firms to ante up what’s due the victims as per what their account statements showed. That is what the victims all reasonably expected in their accounts.

    If the member firms are assessed the up to $500,000 per account, maybe they will be more inclined to turn in their Wall Street colleagues when they see laws being broken. This will make SIPC accountable as they should be as well as provide confidence in our financial institutions.

  2. One can no longer be dumbfounded at the blatant criminal activity on Wall Street since that defines their business model. They own the country now and do whatever they please. As long as they can continue to bribe Congress and use the press and even America’s own social structures to promote their interests, they will run this country into the ground and turn us all into feudal peons. Read this article to see the end game. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/recognizing_the_language_of_tyranny_20110206/

  3. Do you feel your investments are safe?

    Do you think your account statement reflects the balance in your account?

    Do you know that while Irving Picard is questioning and accusing JPMC and the Wilpons, that he’s also pursing innocent investors?

    Do you know that there’s no guarantee that your broker is not a crook?

    Read how Congress is helping and how you can support the safety of your own investments. Please sign our petition to help all investors.
    http://t.co/MbmIGy7

    Please share this message with everyone in your contact list to help make them aware of the facts.

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