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Opera Patron Alberto Vilar Jailed on Fraud Charges

By Ben Mattison
28 May 2005

Philanthropist Alberto Vilar was arrested on May 26 and charged with defrauding an investment client of $5 million, the New York Times reports.

Vilar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, the Kennedy Center, and other organizations. In recent years, however, his high-tech Amerindo fund lost much of its value and he failed to fulfill his pledges to several companies.

In its complaint, the U.S. Attorney's said that Vilar had encouraged an investor to give him $5 million for a new fund. But when federal authorities rejected the new venture, Vilar allegedly put the $5 million into a personal account and used it to pay his own expenses and to make charitable contributions.

Some of the money went to Washington and Jefferson College, Vilar's alma mater, the complaint said, and some to the American Academy in Berlin. Vilar funded a performing arts series at the college and a music fellowship program at the American Academy.

Vilar will stay in jail until a bail hearing on May 31, according to the Times. His lawyer told the paper that prosecutors had asked for a continuance because they were not prepared for the hearing.




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