Could charities be forced to return ill-gotten Madoff gains?


Could charities be forced to return money that they “earned” through investment in Bernard Madoff?

Amid a story about how Bernard Madoff’s life will be in danger for the rest of his days, the Huffington Post raises the question:

Beyond those who have lost everything the most devastatingly sad part of this story are the charities. Their losses are so enormous because Jewish contributions to charity are so enormous. If Madoff had been a WASP gentleman cheating the Old Guard at the restricted Bath and Tennis Club in Palm Beach, charities would have suffered very little.

The most terrifying prospect for the charity is not that they will lose so much of their funding but that they will have to return what may be considered ill-gotten gains. That is rightfully causing a tizzy in the foundation world, though it is unlikely the government would follow through.

Many of Madoff’s victims were part of an acquisitive community overly concerned with wealth and status. But something is happening now primarily in Palm Beach that will likely change the whole temper of this tale. Some of those who have suffered deeply are realizing that they must move beyond their own pain and try to come together and help others. Some of them are aiding those who lost everything. There are plans among some members of the Palm Beach Country Club to lobby Congress to help the charities that have suffered. There is a growing awareness that the answer is not to try to kill Madoff or to waste energy condemning a man who condemns himself, but to move beyond the devastation and to reassert what is best.

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