December 20, 2008 / 7:27 PM / 10 years ago

Charity Picower says closes from Madoff losses

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Picower Foundation, a charity that supports programs ranging from medical research to education, said it was shutting down because of losses from investments with Bernard Madoff.

Bernard Madoff walks back to his apartment in New York, December 17, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The foundation’s assets, which were listed at more than $1 billion, were managed by Madoff, the fund manager accused in a $50 billion fraud.

“This act of fraud has had a devastating impact on tens of thousands of lives as well as numerous philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organizations,” foundation President Barbara Picower said in a statement on Friday.

“We deeply regret that in such a harsh economic climate, we will be unable to support the profoundly important programs and organizations that have helped us further the Foundation’s mission.”

Madoff, who was arrested on December 11, is accused of running a global Ponzi scheme, where earlier investors are paid off with investments of newer clients. The fund manager was put under 24-hour detention in his Manhattan apartment.

The scam has affected businesses and charities around the world.

Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, has written off a $20 million investment it made with Madoff Securities, according to a letter from Lawrence Bacow, president of the university.

The investment accounted for less than 2 percent of the university’s endowment, Bacow said.

The Picower Foundation has distributed more than $268 million in grants to organizations around the United States.

Organizations that have received funding include the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Human Rights First.

The foundation also has provided funding for the New York Public Library, the Children’s Health Fund and the Palm Beach County School district.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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