Y.U. acknowledges $110 million hit in Madoff scandal

NEW YORK (JTA) – Yeshiva University’s president sent an e-mail acknowledging that the university lost $110 million in the Bernard Madoff scandal.

Richard Joel in his letter Tuesday to the university’s board members and alumni said Y.U. had invested the money with J. Ezra Merkin’s Ascot Partners, which was wiped out by the scandal.

"Bernard Madoff is no longer associated with our institution in any way," Joel wrote. "The University had no investments directly with Madoff. Last Thursday night, we were informed by Ascot Partners, a vehicle in which we had invested a small part of our endowment funds for 15 years, that substantially all its assets are invested with Madoff. The Ascot fund was managed by J. Ezra Merkin, who has served as a University trustee and chairman of the investment committee. Mr. Merkin has resigned from all University positions.

"In the most recent statement from Ascot, Yeshiva’s investment was valued at about $110 million, which represents about 8% of our endowment. While these facts are disappointing, we need to remain focused on the larger picture. We are but one of many institutions and individuals that have been impacted."

Joel wrote that the school’s endowment had shrunk from $1.7 billion in January to $1.2 billion with losses in the stock market and the Ascot investment. He insisted, however, that the university remains financially strong.

Joel also announced that the university has "engaged Sullivan & Cromwell and Cambridge Associates, internationally renowned and respected institutions with recognized expertise in corporate and institutional governance, to ensure that our policies and procedures and structure reflect not only best practices, but the gold standard — the standard to which we aspire for all our endeavors."

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