Madoff Victims Include Foundations, Business And Entertainment Icons, Mom And Pop

The foundation of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and a charity operated by Hollywood icon Steven Spielberg were among the potential victims of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Madoff, 70, was arrested last week. He is charged with defrauding investors and acknowledged he’d been running a giant investment Ponzi scheme for years. Losses could top $50 billion, authorities said.

Other potential victims are a charity run by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.), publishing and real-estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman, New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, a host of large companies based in Europe, Yeshiva University and a number of Jewish charities, some of which have suspended operations.

Here is a list of possible Madoff victims from Bloomberg News.

Jewish charities have been particularly hard-hit. Organizations funded by the charities are now endangered, demonstrating a domino effect that could affect charitable budgets coast to coast in the United States.

“The programs of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation and the Robert I. Lappin 1992 Supporting Foundation are discontinued, effectively immediately,” the Massachusetts based foundation said on its website. “This includes Youth to Israel and Teachers to Israel.

“The money used to fund the programs of both Foundations was invested with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and all the assets have been frozen by the federal courts. Mr. Madoff was arrested Thursday morning by the FBI and charged with criminal securities fraud by federal prosecutors. The money needed to fund the programs of the Lappin Foundations is gone.

“The Foundation staff has been terminated today.

“It is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement,” said Robert I. Lappin, Foundation trustee. “The Foundations’ programs have touched thousands of lives over many years in our efforts to help keep our children Jewish.”

One of the big questions, of course, is how fraud of this alleged magnitude could go undetected for years. The SEC is being criticized for lack of oversight and for not peeling back enough layers of the onion in previous inquiries about Madoff’s business practices.

Federal investigators pored over Madoff’s records in New York over the weekend. Guards were positioned outside his offices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Investors have been scrambing to hire attorneys. A number of firms that specialize in securities lawsuits have been issuing News Releases and advertising their plans to gather information and sue.

Some pension funds also have been linked to Madoff’s business, meaning retirees’ income is at risk.

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