​Another Revisit to Madoff and His Charity Stakeholders – Charities and Others that Made Money with Madoff – Installment 16

September 29, 2009Articles White Collar Defense & Compliance Blog

This is the sixteenth in a series of installments on this blog that are discussing some of the issues arising in the aftermath of the long global Ponzi scheme of Bernard L. Madoff (“Madoff”). Installments 3 through 8 and Installments 10, 14 and 15 of this series focused on the specific concerns of charities that were victims of Madoff and similar schemes. All potential stakeholders should consult professional advisors promptly to have their positions evaluated.

On September 22, 2009, the Associated Press reported that federal prosecutors had disclosed in New York that approximately 50% of the Madoff stakeholders had withdrawn more money than they invested with him and about 50% had invested more money than they had withdrawn. There have been many reports that among those stakeholders which received more in distributions from Madoff than they invested were charities. Installment 14 of this blog series reported on allegations that Hadassah received $40 million more in distributions from Madoff than they had invested with him.

Diana B. Henriques wrote an article on May 28, 2009 in The New York Times entitled “It’s Thankless, but He Decides Madoff Claims,” in which Ms. Henriques reported that “[t]here is the widespread fear among some — unfounded, Mr. [Irving] Picard [the trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy proceeding] says — that he will sue struggling charities or people of limited means for money they withdrew in the past but no longer have.”

The May statement by Mr. Picard now presents him with a fascinating quantitative and qualitative dilemma and conundrum. All charities, especially those providing social services like Hadassah, are “struggling” with materially reduced contributions because of the economy, increased demands by individuals who are unemployed and suffering financially, losses in endowment funds from the substantial market declines and increased regulatory activity.

While some smaller charities have already gone out of business from the Madoff fiasco, others large organizations like Hadassah still have meaningful endowment funds, even if depleted. The criteria that Mr. Picard will use to separate “struggling” charities and “people of limited means” from whom he will seek funds and those from whom he will not raises fundamental questions of fairness, size relative value that will likely lead to much more controversy.

[To be continued in Installment 17]