Is Picard Representing The Victims, Or Reaping Billions For His Own Agenda?

An article by posted on April 4, 2011

Lost in all the excitement of the season-opening weekend series against the Marlins, was some news regarding the ongoing clawback lawsuit against the Mets partners by trustee Irving Picard.

The Daily News reports that there is mounting criticism over the revenue and fees Irving Picard has been paid for recovering the billions of dollars lost by the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Reportedly, the $2.5 billion dollars that was setup in a non-profit escrow account to help pay for Picard’s fees is almost wiped out.

SEC Inspector General David Kotz wrote that there has been “significant criticism” over the fees paid to Madoff trustee Irving Picard and his law firm Baker Hostetler, and to attorney James Giddens and his law firm. The payments could break the bank at the Securities Investor Protection Corp., which would then be forced to seek help from the SEC.

“Because the outcome of Lehman liquidation is uncertain and SIPC is advancing its own funds to pay the administrative expenses for the Madoff liquidation, the possibility exists that SIPC could deplete its $2.5 billion fund.”

Andrew Stoltman, a Chicago securities attorney who is representing a different group of Madoff victims, had this to say.

“Picard is being paid ungodly sums of money to recover these funds. It’s literally become a money printing press for his law firm. When he got the appointment (as Madoff trustee), he in effect won the legal lottery, and they are certainly taking advantage of it.”

Irving Picard and his representatives have declined to comment on the criticism levied on him by the SEC Inspector General.

Additionally, in other news that flew under the radar, a lawyer representing about 500 Madoff victims has called for trustee, Irving Picard, to resign.

In a court filing Wednesday, Helen Davis Chaitman cited Picard for breaching his fiduciary responsibility and withholding vital information, and said he should be replaced by an independent investigator.

“This is the largest financial crime in history,” said Chaitman, a Madoff victim herself. “Picard has been dishonest with the court and should step aside as trustee because nobody can trust anything he says.”

Rep. Peter King (R-New York), said he believes Picard has “abused his authority” in his attempts to force a large settlement from Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-New York), said that “Picard had waged a public relations war against the Mets owners and other clawback litigation defendants”.

Another lawyer working with the victims is displeased with how Picard has handled the clawback lawsuit and has accused Picard of keeping the victims he is supposed to represent in the dark,

“Picard had the whole court to himself for a while, but there is a whole other side that is now starting to come out,” he said. “My view is that everyone who invested with Madoff was a victim and it seems to me that not everyone was treated as fairly as we would like to see. The clawback victims feel like they have been brutalized twice.”

I don’t know why all of these significant developments and charges received such little coverage in the past ten days, but it would appear that some type of media bias is at play. Whenever any negative news about the Mets or the Wilpons is reported, it immediately goes viral and takes on a life of it’s own.

But for some reason, when all of this news comes out that mirrors what the Wilpons have been saying all along about Irving Picard, the media simply ignores it.

It just seems very unfair to me.

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