Jewish Billionaire Seth Klarman's Fund Revealed as Secret Holder of $1 Billion in Puerto Rico Debt

Last week Trump suggested wiping out the debt in attempt to help the island's recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria

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Seth Klarman, founder of the Baupost Group LLC, July 8, 2014.
Seth Klarman, founder of the Baupost Group LLC, July 8, 2014.Credit: Bloomberg

A hedge fund managed by American billionaire and mega-donor, Seth Klarman, holds nearly $1 billion of Puerto Rican debt through a shell company hidden from the public eye.

Klarman, whose personal fortune is estimated at $1.55 billion, holds $911.6 million in Puerto Rican debt through his hedge fund, The Baupost Group, the firm confirmed to the Intercept and CNBC last week.

The ownership of the debt was considered somewhat of a mystery since it was not declared publically due to the use of subsidiary groups.

The financial crisis in Puerto Rico has drawn media attention in recent weeks as it was struggling to recover following the devastation by Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico earlier this year filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. municipal history, as it is struggling to regain economic stability in the face of a $72 billion debt load. Austerity measures have been imposed on the island as it was pressured by creditors to repay the debt.

During a trip to Puerto Rico last week U.S President Donald Trump suggested wiping out the island's debt to help its recovery efforts.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

Klarman, 60, the cofounder of The Times of Israel website, has given more than $1.5 million through his foundation to Camera, a right-wing media watchdog that routinely attacks news outlets over their coverage of Israel, Haaretz uncovered last year. While publishing and widely disseminating criticism of Israeli and foreign news outlets, Camera failed to disclose that it receives donations from owners of media outlets. 

Klarman, chairman of the board and capital partner at The Times of Israel, regularly contributed through his foundation, the Klarman Family Foundation, to the Boston-based NGO, before and after The Times of Israel was established in 2012. Klarman is the sole donor to the Klarman Family Foundation.

Klarman is an avid supporter of Israel and is a major donor through his foundation to Birthright-Taglit, which received $1.5 million in 2014 alone. His foundation also supports pro-Israel advocacy organizations such as The Israel Project ($400,000 in 2014), The David Project ($300,000 in 2014) and others.