Harvard Law School’s biggest donor, who died last week in an apparent suicide, may have owed up to $100 million in back taxes and fines, the New York Times reported this week.
Finn M.W. Caspersen, who gave over $30 million to the Law School and tens of millions more to other philanthropic enterprises, may have been implicated in a sweeping federal investigation of offshore bank accounts, said the Times’ anonymous source.
In recent months, Swiss banking giant UBS agreed to turn over the names of thousands of its American clients to the Internal Revenue Service, as the federal government attempts to crack down on tax evasion.
Caspersen held a bank account with LGT, a private bank in Liechtenstein. The government of Liechtenstein has also agreed to reveal names of wealthy American clients, an anonymous individual familiar with the investigation told the Times. It is unclear whether Caspersen’s name was mentioned in this list.
According to the Times’ source, federal authorities have placed liens on the personal trusts of Caspersen’s four sons, all of whom also attended the Law School.
A member of the Law School’s class of 1966, Caspersen was a prominent player in the New Jersey Republican Party and the former CEO of Beneficial Corp, a major consumer lending company. His contributions to Harvard include chairing a record-breaking Law School capital campaign that raised $476 million and endowing a wing of the new Northwest Corner Building with the largest single donation in the Law School’s history.
Caspersen, 67, had been battling kidney cancer before his death on the grounds of a golf club in Westerly, Rhode Island near his summer home. He is survived by his wife Barbara, four sons, and grandchildren.