$1 Billion Fraud Indictment for Firm with which YU Reportedly Considered Investing

Date: December 19, 2016 9:43 pm
Author: David Rubinstein and Doron Levine

Several partners of New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners were arrested on Monday, December 19 on charges of fraud totalling approximately $1 billion. Mark (Meir) Nordlicht, the hedge fund’s founding partner and chief investment officer, was taken into custody from his home in New Rochelle. Nordlicht graduated from YU in 1990 with a bachelor’s in philosophy. He is a member of Young Israel of New Rochelle and sits on the Board of Directors of Westchester Torah Academy.

Among the executives who were arrested and indicted, at least two others are also graduates of Yeshiva University. Uri Landesman, 55, a resident of New Rochelle and former president of Platinum, attended YU in the 1980s. David Levy, a 31-year-old resident of New York City and Platinum’s co-chief investment officer, graduated YU in 2006 and took a position with Platinum in June of that year.

In April, Reuters reported that YU considered investing with Platinum Partners. In an article examining Platinum’s unusually high returns and risky investment techniques, Reuters noted that Yeshiva University considered investing with Platinum but chose not to, possibly due to concerns about its dangerous strategies. Reuters did not report on YU’s specific rationale for not investing with Platinum, but YU investors might have been particularly attuned to warning signs – in the indictment, prosecutors accused Platinum of “operating like a ponzi scheme,” raising immediate associations with the notorious Madoff scandal and its effects on YU’s finances. Ahron Herring, YU’s Chief Investment Officer, denied that he ever considered investing with Platinum.

The fundraising side of YU’s financial arm is currently in transition – Seth Moskowitz, the chief administrator of YU’s fundraising office, resigned his position of Vice President of Institutional Advancement on Monday, December 12, the morning after YU’s primary fundraising event of the year, the Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation. The now-vacant position will remain empty for the time being, and President Richard Joel will personally oversee Institutional Advancement until he steps down on July 1.

The Platinum arrests come just days after real estate developer Shalom Lamm was indicted this past Thursday for intent to commit voter fraud. Mr. Lamm graduated with a degree in philosophy from Yeshiva College in 1981 and sat on its Board of Directors. He is the son of former YU President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm.

Note: This article has been updated since its initial release

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This post was written by David Rubinstein and Doron Levine

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