VIDEO / Hadassah Women: We lost $90 million in Madoff's Wall Street scam
Zionist organization joins long list of Jewish charities hit by financial manager's $50 billion fraud.
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, said Thursday that it has lost $90 million it invested with Bernard Madoff, the Wall Street investment manager who recently admitted to a years-long fraud scam totaling some $50 billion.
A statement released by the organization on Wednesday confirmed the sum lost, but said that while "[f]alling victim to this unprecedented fraud will require us to make necessary adjustments... it has not in the slightest affected our commitment to our core Zionist mission. These are indeed turbulent times, but the key pillars of Hadassah remain as strong as ever."
Madoff was accused in a criminal complaint last Thursday of defrauding hundreds of wealthy investors in a Ponzi scheme. Under a Ponzi scheme, later investors' funds are used to pay returns to initial investors. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million if convicted.
Hadassah is the latest in what is becoming a long list of prominent Jewish organizations and investors to lose substantial amounts of money to Madoff. Others to lose out include Elie Wiesel's foundation, a Steven Spielberg charity, media and real estate magnate Mort Zuckerman and the Yeshiva University.
Madoff apparently used his connections in the world of Jewish philanthropy to recruit new clients. His scam has also hit international financial institutions, including British banks the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC, and France's second-largest bank, Credit Mutuel.
The financier was put under house arrest Wednesday, as the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission again answered questions about why the alleged fraud went on for a decade.
A federal judge ordered Madoff, 70, confined to his $7 million Manhattan apartment and told Madoff's wife, Ruth, to surrender her U.S. passport by noon Thursday as part of modified bail conditions.
Madoff will be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet and will only be allowed to leave his home for appointments prearranged with authorities.
Bloomberg reported that Ruth Madoff is being investigated by the SEC over whether she helped maintain secret records used in the alleged fraud, citing a person familiar with the matter.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Madoffs signed an agreement to forfeit their Manhattan apartment and properties in Montauk, New York and Palm Beach, Florida if they failed to adhere to the bail conditions.
Madoff was filmed by television crews leaving the federal court in Manhattan, but he did not talk to reporters. With a calm expression on his face, he sat in the front passenger seat of a black SUV that sped away.
He later was seen by news photographers getting out of a vehicle near his apartment building. Madoff walked briskly with a slight smile on his face as photographers jostled to take his picture before he entered the front door of the building.
The changes in bail conditions for the one-time Nasdaq Stock Exchange chairman were ordered as angry investors urged prosecutors to take a firmer stance.
"The investors I am speaking with are extremely upset and think he should be in jail today," said Ross Intelisano, a partner at law firm Rich i Intelisano LLP said. "They think he is a flight risk, and they are shocked that the bail is so low."
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