Hadassah: The Women's Zionist Organization of America has announced that it will return $45 million it had gained through the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
In a letter posted on the organization's Web site, Hadassah president Nancy Falchuk noted that the organization had been introduced to Bernard Madoff Securities in 1988 through a $7 million gift from a French donor. Between 1988 and 1996, Hadassah invested an additional $33 million with Madoff, and by April 2007 it had withdrawn $137 million from its account. When the fraud was revealed two years ago, the account statement for the organization showed a balance of about $90 million.
The $45 million to be returned represents approximately half of what Hadassah had earned through its investments with Madoff. The agreement, reached after months of negotiation with Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee in the Madoff case, is subject to bankruptcy court approval. According to Falchuk's letter, the organization will pay the $45 million from existing unrestricted funds; gifts will continue to be used for their intended purposes.
"As painful as it is, this settlement is in the best interest of Hadassah," Falchuk wrote. "It allows us to put this chapter behind us and move forward with our critical life-affirming mission, a charitable mission praised by the trustee for its philanthropic value."