Bernie Madoff’s Ben Gurion University Connection

Ben Gurion University in Israel is probably best known for being home to many of the worst far-leftist anti-Israel radical faculty members in the country, people like Neve Gordon, Oren Yiftachel, and David Newman.  While it has some serious scholars, mainly in the sciences and engineering, the social sciences and humanities departments there are by and large centers for leftist indoctrination and anti-Israel agitprop.  The entire Department of Politics consists of anti-Israel extremists, and its academic standards are so pathetically low that an international panel of experts recently called for shutting it down altogether.   Now it has been learned that the University is also up-to-its-neck involved in the Bernard Madoff mega-scandal.  Indeed, it appears that part of the salaries for Neve Gordon and his ilk come from funds stolen by Bernard Madoff from his victims and transferred to BGU.

In recent months many details have emerged about the connections between Ben Gurion University and the Madoff scandal.  In particular, attention is focusing on the role of Israeli lawyer Yair Green, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of Ben Gurion University.   BGU was a major beneficiary of donations transferred to it by Green, whose source was money stolen by Madoff.  The University has indicated no plans or willingness to return any of the stolen funds.

Green is being investigated in the United States and in Israel; he has been indicted in the United States by the court-appointed trustee Irving Picard, who is in charge of unraveling and cleaning up the disaster left over by the Madoff Affair.  That Affair involved the largest Ponzi scam in human history, in which losses to investors amounted to more than $50 billion.  While Madoff’s victims came from across the spectrum, a very large portion of them were Jewish institutions, philanthropies, and individuals.   Green is suspected of being involved in several funds with close ties to the Madoff operations, and also operating a “charity fund” in Israel that made donations to Israeli universities and other institutions using funds stolen by Madoff from his victims.

Bernard Madoff, it will be recalled, operated a gargantuan Ponzi “investment” scam.  A bit like chain letters and pyramid schemes, a “Ponzi scheme” is one in which investor funds are basically moved about by the operator from investor to investor to create the delusion of profits being earned, as the operator skims off substantial amounts for himself and his partners.  When it collapses, investors lose most or all of their investments.  The Madoff scam produced enormous damages and losses, but also produced some beneficiaries, including Green himself and Ben Gurion University.

BGU’s Green was connected in a number of different ways to the Madoff operations, including as the managing director of the “Magnify” corporation,  a shady investment fund registered in Panama.  That fund was originally set up by one Albert Igoin, a Romanian-born French banker and financial manager with close ties to Madoff.   After serving in the French underground during World War II, Igoin was the right hand man of a French communist party leader.  French intelligence believed he operated as a Soviet spy in France.  He was under constant surveillance by French counter-intelligence, and the US refused to allow him to enter its borders.

At some point Igoin lost interest in Stalinism and instead went into finance.   He did exceptionally well.  He later teamed up with Madoff back in the 1970s.  Igoin was deeply involved in the Madoff operations, and “Magnify” was involved in channeling funds to and from the Madoff “investment house.”

Green not only ran “Magnify,” but also some other funds or operations in which Ingoin was involved, including Primero and Strand, based in the Virgin Islands.  In 1988 Green set up with Igoin the so-called Yeshaya Horowitz Association, which funded applied research projects in Israel.  It is named after an 18th century kabbalist and Rabbi.  Its stated purpose was to channel donations to Israeli universities, hospitals and other institutions.

Before the scandal, the Horowitz Association had raised between 100 and 200 million dollars, mainly for Israeli universities.  Press reports claimed that it lost $800 million in the collapse of Madoff’s scheme, although all or almost all of those funds were simply money siphoned off to it from Madoff, not trading profits or investment earnings.

Green was also the direct beneficiary of funds handled by his operations, including a payment of over three million dollars from the “Magnify” fund.   Green’s children also received cash “gifts.”   Green claimed that some of these came from the daughter of Albert Igouin, who now lives in Europe.  But when contacted by Israel’s Channel Ten, she denied even knowing who Green is or having met him.   Igoin himself died in 1995.

Green began raising funds for Ben Gurion University while the Madoff scheme grew.  In exchange, he was first granted an honorary PhD by the University and later appointed chairman of the executive committee of the University’s Board of Governors by its leftist President Rivka Carmi, a post he still fills.  Green also developed political ties with Israeli politicians, especially from the Left.  He has close ties with Israeli President Shimon Peres and with assorted Labor Party activists and leaders, including Avishai Braverman, past president of BGU.  The Labor Party’s one-time Minister of Education Yuli Tamir appointed Green to sit in the country’s Council on Higher Education.  Peres received funds from Green and granted him honors in exchange.

Ben Gurion University was not the only beneficiary of Green’s activities.  So was the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  Among the members of the board of the Horowitz Association, overseeing the distribution of funds, was Professor Hanoch Gutfreund, the ex-President of the Hebrew University (who is also on the international board of the far-leftist “New Israel Fund”).  The Horowitz Association made large contributions to the “President’s Assembly” run by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The Green-Madoff connections were exposed in a special television exposé a few months back on Israel’s Channel Ten in its “Hamakor” documentary, a show roughly analogous to “60 Minutes” in the US.   Channel Ten and the Nana news web site claim that Yair Green siphoned off millions of dollars in money scammed by Madoff from his victims, suggesting that this was some sort of hush money to hold his tongue about Madoff’s behavior.   He held repeated face-to-face meetings with Madoff.

Green had registered his Horowitz Association as a non-profit institution in Israel.  When the registrar for non-profits demanded to know what the source was for the funds that Green was conveying to recipients in Israel, Green refused to answer, claiming the donor had required anonymity. It turned out that the only source of the funds was the Madoff “investment house.”    Channel Ten claims Green received $3.15 million to his own bank account in 2002 from Magnify (in addition to other payments received).  In 2005 each of Green’s children received a payment of $100,000 from “Magnify.” Green claims the millions were fees due him for legal services.

After a trustee was appointed to handle the cleanup of the financial mess left behind by the collapse of the Madoff scheme, the trustee filed a suit this past summer (on June 15, 2012) against a group of defendants, including both Green and the Horowitz Association regarding jurisdiction, and the petition was granted.  Picard insists that Green and Madoff had an unusually close and warm personal relationship.

The suit charges that Green was among those who received large amounts of payouts from the Madoff fund, funds that had in effect been stolen from Madoff’s victims and were siphoned off to Green (and other defendants).   One of the defendants was the “Magnify Corporation.”

The suit went on to charge this:  According to the Trustee, “Green and/or Brunner exercised control” over the Accountholder Defendants’ accounts. Further, “Green and Brunner had virtually unfettered discretion to manipulate the Accountholder Defendants’ accounts,” and they “exploited their relationships with Madoff” to do so.  Allegedly taking advantage of that power, “Green and Brunner . . . funneled millions of dollars of other people’s money . . . to themselves, their families, Yeshaya, other charitable institutions throughout Israel, and other individuals and entities being investigated by the Trustee around the world.”

The suit charges that group of funds run by Green and Brunner “was inconsistent with legitimate trading activity,” as these accounts were rife with “indicia of irregularity.” Allegedly ignoring these indicia of irregularity, Brunner and Green exercised control over the entities’ accounts “to siphon money from BLMIS for the benefit of the Defendants, particularly Yeshaya, as well as their family members and various Israeli institutions.” ‘

In spite of his role in the Madoff affair, Green continues to attempt to raise funds for Israeli institutions.  And especially for Ben Gurion University.

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  • AdinaK

    Steven, unlike a few others, understands the deep, abiding connections between leftist academia and their "benefactors". In fact, they are twins separated at birth. Their dogma jumps oceans and they merge across the world –

    Israeli academia is rife with far left radicals, and TAU is emblematic of the disease. No one should dare underestimate the damage they wreck –

    Dr. Martin Sherman, a close associate, knows the ins and outs of TAU, having taught there for years. It is due to this knowledge, plus so much more, that he took it upon himself to initiate a policy center, 'Israel Institute For Strategic Studies', to beat back their deleterious effects –

    Due to the above, and much more, take this article very seriously. No one should think that Bernie is the only bad boy in this scenario. Alas, there are too many others to count! In effect, Israel's far left, civil society "elites" are wagging the political dog, regardless which party holds power. Indeed.

    Adina kutnicki, Israel –

  • TexRanger

    The Jews, like the ignorant Americans, are standing around with their thumbs up their backsides while the Liberal-Communists in each country work hard to destroy the countries. Isn't it time for the conservatives in each country to say "enough is enough" and toss out this Democrat-Communist scum?

  • Ziggy Zoggy

    The ultimate capitalist is actually the ultimate leftist. The only thing consistent about lefties is their self serving hypocrisy.

    • danica


  • Rostislav

    Bolshevism ("The Left" as it is elegantly rechristened today) is simply inseparable from loathsome dirt, hopelessly spoiling everything in this beautiful world, be it Russian art or Israeli education, American media or French banking, Chinese family or – well, about anything the Left meets or needs. We have an ancient proverb in Russia: remember that just one drop of tar is quite enough to spoil a barrel of honey! No doubts it was a wise advice for the good old times, but now the situation begs for the reverse kind of hint: how to save the last few drops of honey from the omnipresent barrels of the leftist dirt? Our Russian lore is silent – and what does American or Israeli wisdom say? Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

  • Ghostwriter

    Right now,David Ben Gurion must be spinning in his grave because the university that bear HIS name is acting in such a disgraceful manner to the country he fought for.

  • Dr Frank Leavitt

    Those who followed the (unfortunately highly distorted) news about the problems which I had with Ben Gurion University a couple of years ago, will rightly suspect that I have plenty of cause to complain about that university. However, a scholar, which I try to be, must be fair and as objective as possible. In fact, Ben Gurion University is an excellent and distinguished institution. Not a few but many departments are excellent. The Faculty of Health Sciences, where I taught for twenty years, has probably the best medical school in the country. Clinical medicine and medical research, although overlapping, should be discussed separately. . Some schools might, and I stress "might" be doing better research. But there is no argument about the high level of our clinical teaching. Our other health sciences, nursing, physiotherapy, emergency medicine, microbiology and other laboratory medical subjects, are also taught at the highest level, and our graduates are much in demand. The problem is not with the university as a whole but with one, maybe two departments, and with some of the people in higher management.
    Best wishes to all,
    Dr Yeruham (Frank) Leavitt
    Senior Lecturer Emeritus,
    Faculty of Health Sciences,
    Ben Gurion University,
    Beer Sheva,
    resident, Kiriat Arba, Hebron.