NewsBits: The Madoff Mess

Some selected quotes and stories from around the world wide web:

  • Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer (Bloomberg): “This is going to be tough. The worst of the real side is yet to come.”
  • Rabbi Shmuly Boteach (Jerusalem Post): “… how is it that when so many of the people going to jail on Wall Street turn out to be Jewish, the Modern Orthodox and Conservative movements have not immediately launched a campaign, as they are doing with kosher meat, to evaluate firms that invest Jewish money to ensure that they conform to the highest ethical norms in terms of treatment of employees and overcompensation of dead-beat executives?”
  • Lynn LoPucki, who teaches bankruptcy law at Harvard (Bloomberg): “Right now there are Madoff winners and Madoff losers. Before this is over there will be nothing but Madoff losers.

from The New York Times:

Betrayed by Madoff, School Adds Lesson

The Jewish social philosophy class at Yeshiva University was supposed to focus on repentance, but there seemed to be too much to atone for. In the eyes of the students, Bernard L. Madoff had deceived scores of people, turned billions of dollars into dust and ruined many lives. So instead, the graduate seminar of 15 began by debating whether Mr. Madoff’s actions were sins, and whether it mattered that he was Jewish…

At a school that aims to inculcate ethics and interpersonal morals in its students along with academics — to train future doctors, lawyers, educators and financiers to not just be good at their jobs but to perform them in accordance with traditional Jewish ideals — the story of Mr. Madoff has turned into the consummate teaching moment.

from The Jerusalem Post:

JDC: Funding intact for 2009

Despite the philanthropic turmoil facing Jewish charities and non-profit organizations, the American Jewish-Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced Monday that only a small portion of its $300 million budget for 2009 is likely to be damaged by the Madoff investment scam and the global economic crisis.

“There is some $40m. in undesignated donations that could be hurt as a result of the economic situation, but all things considered we are reasonably optimistic,” Steven Schweger, the JDC’s chief executive officer, told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview.

from Forbes:

Blumenthal May Investigate Charities Ripped Off by Madoff

The list of victims who have fallen prey to Bernie Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is growing longer by the day. Among its victims are countless nonprofit organizations, ranging from Yeshiva University and Tufts University to the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation.

Now at least one attorney general is asking for records to determine if trustees sitting on nonprofit boards failed to perform their fiduciary responsibility to do proper due diligence.

Robert Blumenthal, attorney general for the state of Connecticut, has asked the court-appointed trustee responsible for Madoff’s liquidation for the names of Connecticut-based victims, including nonprofit organizations. The attorney general says the issue of nonprofit board liability “is, obviously, by no means crystal clear.”

“If they failed recklessly to do the necessary due diligence, we would certainly investigate and take action,” Blumenthal told “If the claim is that a trustee or a board member or that the board itself failed in its fiduciary responsibilities, there would be legal action and they could be held personally and financially responsible.”

from Bloomberg:

Madoff Victims May Have to Return 6 Years of Profits, Principal

“Charities are looking at their legal options as regarding their right to recoup money,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the New York-based Jewish Funders Network, whose 1,000 members fund Jewish causes and are assessing losses from Madoff investments. “I don’t know that they’ve been focused on or are aware that they may in fact be at further risk of loss.”

from The Jewish Community Centre of London Blog:

Other People’s Money

Many charities are already suffering; the impact on the JCCs of Eastern Europe funded by US agencies will be severe.

from The Cutting Edge:

Merkin’s Role in the Madoff Scandal Coming to Light As Lawsuits Fly

Attention has now turned to a second prominent Jewish financier, Jacob Ezra Merkin. Merkin appears to be deeply involved in Madoff’s mess. Who is Merkin?