The Madoff Mess: Charities Face Difficult Moral Questions

We came across this article yesterday morning; with all the pre-occupation with Madoff’s sentence we held it for today so as not to be relegated to the back burner. The author, an attorney and law professor, raises questions worthy of discussion.

from The New York Times:

Should Charities Repay Their Madoff Money?

…And another troubling aspect of the Madoff fraud has emerged in the past few weeks. It is now being alleged that certain charitable foundations and individuals on the whole reaped profits in the millions, if not billions of dollars, from Mr. Madoff’s misdeeds.

And much of this money may have been subsequently donated to innocent charities. This situation raises some of the most troubling questions about Bernie’s legacy. First, did charities on the whole benefit from Mr. Madoff’s crime? And second, do these innocent charities have a moral or legal obligation to return the money?

…The bottom line is that there were net winners in the Bernie Madoff scandal, and many charities received money that was at best tainted by Mr. Madoff, and at worst directly attributable to his crime. In the coming months, many of the people who benefited from Mr. Madoff, inappropriately or otherwise, are going to be sued or otherwise asked to return the money they received.

What about the charities who received this money after it was distributed?