An investment group including New York Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon and Mets president Saul Katz have agreed to pay $162 million over five years to settle with the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard Madoff’s investment firm.

Wilpon and Katz were partners in Sterling Equities, which invested with Madoff, but also withdrew money before Madoff’s firm was liquidated in the aftermath of the exposure of his Ponzi scheme. The $162 million settlement is equal to 100 percent of the fictitious profits that were withdrawn by the Sterling parties during the six years prior to the liquidation of Madoff’s investment firm. The settlement was announced Monday in a federal court in New York by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation and Irving Picard, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff’s former investment firm.

“This settlement is in the best interest of the Madoff victims, who will benefit from the additional monies being added to the customer fund for distribution,” said SIPC president Stephen P. Harbeck in a statement. “The decision also provides guidance towards other similar settlements in cases still pending with the trustee.”

Picard and the SIPC had originally sought $1 billion from the Mets owners, contending they were sophisticated investors who had ignored warnings of fraud while making money from the Madoff fraud. However, Wilpon and Katz had claimed they were unaware of the scam. The case was on the verge of going to trial, and if Picard and the SIPC had prevailed, they might have won up to $303 million on behalf of the Madoff victims. Wilpon and Katz have three years to pay the $162 million settlement, and that amount may be reduced further as the Madoff liquidation proceeds.

“I can’t wait to get back to our businesses, which I love, and the first order of business, the first priority, is getting down to Florida tomorrow, getting to that spring training camp and bringing the Mets back to the prominence our fans deserve,” Wilpon told The New York Times.

For more informationnon the settlement, visit http://www.madofftrustee.com.

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