Grant Foundation Hit in Madoff Scheme

A foundation responsible for funding two Harvard programs at nearly $1 million has been forced to close amid Bernard L. Madoff’s $50 billion securities fraud.

Both Harvard groups, which were supported by the JEHT Foundation, received the amount they were promised before the philanthropic organization shut down.

The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School received a total of $161,261 in 2006 and 2008 for its South Africa Apartheid Litigation project.

“We’ve received the full amount. The grants are completed essentially,” said Clinical Director Tyler R. Giannini.

The project aimed to seek accountability for U.S. corporations allegedly complicit in abuses committed by the South African government under apartheid.

Giannini added that if the clinic plans to do a similar project in the future, it would have to find new donors.

“But we are constantly looking for new funders to support important work we do,” he said.

The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School received $768,739 from JEHT in 2005 for a three-year project aimed at invigorating state and local enforcement of human rights standards.

“The grant was fully paid some time ago, so we do not expect any impact on our work from the Madoff scandal,” Kennedy School professor Christopher E. Stone ’78, faculty chair of the program, said in an e-mail.

The College’s Office of Sponsored Programs also received $263,418 from JEHT in fiscal year 2007, according to a list of grant recipients on Bloomberg.com, but the Web site does not indicate what the money was for and whether the funded program was a continuing one.

Ethlyn O’Garro, director of the Sponsored Programs Administration, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The JEHT Foundation was established in 2000 to promote criminal and juvenile justice systems reform, to advocate the international rule of law, and to advance fair and competitive elections.

“It’s so disappointing to see the Madoff scandal have an effect on a group like the JEHT Foundation, which was sponsoring numerous critically important human rights initiatives,” Giannini said in an e-mail.

Over the years, JEHT has supported international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as human rights programs at major universities including Yale, Columbia, and Brandeis.

The alleged Ponzi scheme run by Madoff has paralyzed a number of charitable organizations, including the Picower Foundation, which consequently terminated funding for a diabetes research project at Harvard Medical School in December.

—Staff writer Weiqi Zhang can be reached at wzhang@fas.harvard.edu.