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Stanford scam bilked Jews out of millions

A GlobalPost Passport investigation finds that the $8 billion Stanford Ponzi scheme decimated the savings of Jews in Mexico City and Caracas. Were they explicitly targeted?

Disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford, in May 2008 (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Over the past 15 years, Kadima, a Jewish charity in Mexico City, has helped developmentally disabled Jews live to their fullest potential. The charity, which has 250 beneficiaries, offers day care for adults with Downs Syndrome, and provides job training and placement for the mentally handicapped.

To ensure that the aid would be there despite the frequent turmoil in Mexico’s economy, for years the charity has vigorously raised funds, and has scrimped and saved wherever possible. “What we really wanted to do with the money is to make sure the institution can go for another 10 years,” said Sofie Freiman, head of Kadima’s fundraising efforts. “It was a great deal of money for an institution that relies on donations by other people. It took us 13 years to save it.”

By 2009, Kadima had amassed enough money that its directors planned to expand the clinic and start up new programs.

Now, most of that money is gone. The charity had invested its nest egg with R. Allen Stanford’s Houston-based Stanford Financial Group, which, according to U.S. prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission, was an $8 billion Ponzi scheme. The alleged Stanford fraud is the world’s second biggest Ponzi scheme, after the $65 billion Bernard L. Madoff case.

It has been widely reported that Madoff wiped out the fortunes of many wealthy Jewish families and charities. Now a GlobalPost Passport investigation reveals that, as a victim of Stanford, Kadima was far from alone among the Jewish communities of Latin America.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/commerce/090923/stanford-scam-bilked-jews-out-millions