SF Giants owner implicated in “years-long criminal conspiracy”
By Marc Delucchi
SF Giants minority owner Scott Seligman has been implicated in a criminal conspiracy that spanned nine years and made his family at least $114.7 million, according to reporting by The Detroit News on federal court records. While Seligman was a part of the original ownership group that purchased the MLB team in 1992, he is most known for receiving financial windfalls through real estate and banking.
Per the report, Seligman has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. However, a criminal case against former Sterling bank executive YiHou Han refers to a “Financial Institution A” and “Executive 1” as key components of the broader conspiracy. Seligman is a co-founder of Sterling bank and, per The Detroit News’ reporting, is the “Executive 1” mentioned in the criminal filings.
The charges detail tax fraud, money laundering, and a bank fraud scheme that used residential loans to boost revenue for the parent company, Sterling Bancorp, before going public in 2017. Upon the initial offering, Seligman and his family sold $114.7 million worth of shares and were lauded by the financial world. However, a class-action lawsuit and criminal investigations have since followed.
Here is an excerpt from Justice Department attorneys Jason Covert and Kevin Lowell’s brief:
"“With the knowledge and encouragement of members of Financial Institution A’s senior management, including Executive 1, Executive 2, Executive 3, and Executive 4, the defendant and her co-conspirators falsified documents and material information about borrowers’ qualifications for the Advantage Loan Program, and concealed material information about borrowers from Financial Institution A’s underwriting department, in order to increase the volume of loans originated under the Advantage Loan Program — which, in turn, increased the bank’s revenue — and their personal commissions.”"
According to prosecutors, Han was reportedly prompted by “Executive 1” (Seligman) and other executives to falsify documents and hide other information from underwriters. Presumably, since Han is expected to plead guilty to all charges in the coming months, more charges against more prominent people, like Seligman, could be coming soon. Of course, at the same time, it would not be the first time that billionaire banking executives were able to avoid consequences for nefarious actions.
Seligman is not the first Giants owner to earn negative press recently. Majority owner Charles Johnson has been one of the most prolific donors to political candidates around the country and has apologized on multiple occasions for donations to candidates who committed blatant acts of racism.
Major League Baseball has never shown much willingness to hold owners accountable for outside MLB business. Perhaps Scott Seligman’s status as a minority owner might push the league to pressure him to sell his share of the SF Giants. However, more likely than not, a man involved in one of the largest banking schemes in America over the past decade will face no noticeable consequences whatsoever.