The CEO of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will immediately repay a $525,000 loan he received from the charity.
The office of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to JNF last week calling on the organization to recover the loans made to Russell Robinson and its chief financial officer, Mitchel Rosenzweig, by the end of the calendar year.
The letter followed a July 27 story in the Forward about the loans, made in the 2015 fiscal year, which violate a state law barring charities from lending money to their officers.
JNF spokesman Adam Brill told the publication New York Jewish Life over the weekend that Robinson would repay the loan by Aug. 1, “to make sure there is no sense of impropriety.” Brill also noted that since Robinson and Rosenzweig are considered executives, not officers or directors — titles limited to its board members — the group believed they were entitled to receive the loans.
The Forward reported that the loans were included in JNF’s tax filings for 2015 and were granted, according to the documents, “to facilitate the purchase of real estate” to both men.
JNF told the Forward that Robinson and Rosenzweig have been repaying the loans in regular installments and are being charged interest at the prime market rate — the interest rate banks offer well-qualified borrowers.
“As always, JNF is in full compliance with the laws and regulations of the State of New York, and follows all legal procedures as specified by the NY Attorney General, and will respond to any requests made by the Attorney General as in the past,” Brill said in a statement to the Forward.
In 2015, Robinson earned $436,000 from JNF and Rosenzweig $306,000, the Forward reported, based on the charity’s 990 tax filing. The Forward article noted that “JNF has grown significantly during their tenure, with assets at the end of the 2015 fiscal year that were 25 times larger than when the two joined the organization.”
IN 2016, JNF and other Israeli non-profits lost millions of shekels after investing in a housing fund.