NY Investigates Madoff Chum in Charity Losses

Nonprofits say Merkin invested millions without their knowledge
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2009 6:44 AM CST
Ezra Merkin, pictured at right with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert of Israel, had been subpoenaed in connection with millions of dollars lost by charities in connection with the Madoff Ponzi scheme.   (AP Photo/Eliana Aponte, Pool/File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – New York investigators widened their inquiry into Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme yesterday, as claims emerged that a middleman may have defrauded charities of millions of dollars. Money manager Ezra Merkin allegedly invested the money of 15 nonprofits in Madoff funds without their knowledge, reports the New York Daily News. New York AG Andrew Cuomo has now subpoenaed Merkin, the first figure besides Madoff to be targeted by authorities.

Merkin is alleged to have served on the boards of several nonprofits while also offering advice on investment strategies. The victims include Carnegie Hall and New York University, as well as Jewish charities and organizations such as Yeshiva University and the United Jewish Appeal Foundation of New York. Cuomo has also subpoenaed three funds that Merkin managed, which all received millions in fees for managing the charities' investments.