Saturday, September 5, 2009

Harvard's Taxes

"Tax specialist Steven Rose, who is based in Walpole, Mass., resigned in protest in 2001 as Harvard Management's [HM] corporate tax director. ... According to Rose, a [CPA] who had worked for Coopers & Lybrand and consulted for [HM] for 10 years before he was hired there, the financial arrangements between Harvard and the private firms may have allowed Harvard for avoid taxes on [Unrelated-business taxable income] UBTI. Harvard sometimes would offset the fees it owed the firms for their services with a cut of the firms' overall revenue, in an arrangement known as netting. ... In effect, the netting canceled out both the fees Harvard would have owed the firms for their services and revenue that could have been seen as [UBTI]. ... Tom Ochsenschlager, a vice president of taxation at the [AICPA], said the IRS would have a strong case for viewing income derived from such an agreement as UBTI. ... Lawrence ... Summers is believed to have been concerned about UBTI, but an investigation by an independent party ended without recommendations. Rose then took his campaign to regulators and lawmakers", Robin Blumenthal (RB) at Barron's, 3 August 2009, link:

"Iris ... Mack, 52, blasted the management company in March, telling the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, of a 'frightening' use of derivatives and statistical-modeling techniques during her brief tenure in 2002. ... Rose ..., too, talked to the Crimson, becoming, with Mack, a thorn in the side of Harvard just as it was trying to explain to students, professors and alumni exactly why the huge endowment was plunging 30%. In the ensuing months, Mack and Rose have compared notes on the phone and become friends. ... Mack ... had earned a doctoral degree in applied Mathematics at Harvard--only the second African-American woman to do so--and she had put in a stint as an executive in the derivatives group of BNP Paribas in London. Right before Harvard, she worked at Enron, the doomed energy concern. ... Mack raised her concerns privately in a letter to then-Harvard President Lawrence Summers. ... She was fired several days later; her attorney has cited a letter from [Jack] Meyer faulting her for spreading 'baseless allegations.' ... Mack has since returned to academia, teaching graduate-level math and finance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. ... As with Mack, Harvard says, its investigations found Rose's charges to be 'without merit'," RB at Barron's 3 August 2009.

I agree with Ochsenschlager. Who were Harvard's "experts"?

Enron, poor dear. I'll bet Mack saw lots of economically senseless derivatives at Enron. Imagine, HM, with a $30 billion portfolio, might not understand the derivatives it uses to "manage" its risks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"...Summers is believed to have been concerned about UBTI, but an investigation by an independent party ended without recommendations...."

Ok... bury it and hopefully everyone will forget...

I'm sure that HM et al appreciate it being resurrected here.