Fred Wilpon’s defence against the Madoff victims’ lawsuit will be the one everyone expected it to be, according to the Daily News. If the SEC wasn’t aware of the fraud, how could he reasonably be expected to have known?
“It’s very easy in hindsight to say everyone should have known,” one source told the Daily News. “Bernie Madoff was a luminary. He was the last person you would have suspected of fraud.”
Wilpon’s lawyers will point to the fact that Madoff was even appointed head of the Nasdaq exchange, as further proof of his good standing in the financial community.
The Daily News is quick to support this defence. It offers another argument, presumably passed on to them by Wilpon’s attorneys.
Even if anyone knew Madoff was a fraud before his confession, it has become clear in hindsight that the most obvious reasonable step – reporting Madoff to the SEC – likely would not have accomplished much; the commission heard from plenty of whistleblowers, but did virtually nothing to investigate Madoff’s vaunted split-strike conversion strategy.
That calls attention to a fascinating supblot of the Wilpon-Madoff saga. As HardballTalk notes, every time the Times runs a story speaking to “sources” from the victims’ side, the Daily News follows up with a report from “sources” close to the Mets. While the Times (and Post) probably turn to the victims because the juicy stories of fraud and crime emerge from their case, it’s hard to tell why the Daily News turns to the Mets.
It’s probably due to the simple fact that it’s easy to believe Wilpon really had no idea what was going on – no one did. Otherwise, Madoff would have been caught much earlier. But there are two compelling conspiracy theories at play. Not only does the Mets’ television network produce Daily News-branded shows (as reader “Gene” reminds us), but it’s also worth noting lead columnist Mike Lupica’s relationship with the Wilpons. As the Post’s Mike Vacarro opined, “I wish I had a lapdog as fiercely (and blindly) loyal to me as the Wilpons have in a certain other columnist across town.”
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