Penn's 'New Era' Filing: $1.55 M

On the final deadline day for filing with the bankruptcy trustee of the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy, Penn filed a proof of claim "to protect the University's legal interest in $1,550,000 in University funds that were on deposit at New Era at the time of the bankruptcy," according to Stephen Schutt, President Rodin's Chief of Staff.

Along with other prestigious educational and cultural institutions, Penn deposited funds with New Era under a matching program, and did experience actual gains in its initial transactions, Mr. Schutt said.

The Foundation filed for bankruptcy this spring, in the midst of federal and state investigations of charges that New Era operated as a "Ponzi scheme." Assets were frozen as hundreds of educational, religious and cultural organizations filed for recovery of deposits and for the matching funds promised by New Era.

Penn did not file a claim for the promised matching funds, Mr. Schutt emphasized, but filed only to protect the funds deposited.

"The University filed the claim because we believe the trustee is likely to recover substantial sums through litigation against actual wrongdoers," he added. "It is possible that the trustee will recover enough money in this way to reimburse nonprofit or charitable institutions that lost money to New Era.

"On the other hand, the University does not intend to 'profit' at the expense of any other nonprofit or charitable institutions," he said.

Earlier, in an open letter to the campus community and alumni (Almanac May 25), Vice President for Development Virginia Clark said that the University's New Era transactions were intentionally limited, and involved only funds "given to Penn by a select group of individual donors" who knew about the program. "No transactions with New Era were based on contributions from other Penn donors," Ms. Clark said. She also noted that the University would review internal controls and decision- making procedures. At their June stated meeting, the Trustees said such a review would be conducted