Jewish Community Hero Peter Lowy Describes His Philanthropy Style As ‘Transparent’

Nominate Peter Lowy here!

The United Jewish Communities released this "leadership briefing" Aug. 17: "Peter Lowy, managing director of The Westfield Group, described his philanthropic style as being transparent and goal-oriented and noted that when he commits his dollars to philanthropy, he commits his time as well."

Peter Lowy has a lot of courage to go public with his philanthropy mission after the mauling he took last year in the news.

Carol Eisenberg wrote July 17, 2008:

Peter Lowy, 48, of Los Angeles, owner of the Westfield shopping-center fortune along with his family, was one of those named in the bipartisan report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Lowy, whose company will lease space in the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York, is a deep-pocket contributor to both Democratic and Republican campaigns.

The 110-page report says that Lowy’s father, Frank Lowy, an Australian citizen, used Liechtenstein-based LGT Group to set up a series of shell companies, including a U.S. based foundation, to divert $68 million in assets. LGT removed any traces to the family to avoid detection by U.S. or Australian authorities, according to the report. Although Frank Lowy is Australian, his son, Peter, who is CEO of Westfield LLC, is a U.S. citizen living in California.

Lowy’s attorney, Robert Bennett, told ABC News that his client’s name was on the list of owners of secret accounts set up by the Liechtenstein bank, but that he had done nothing wrong.

The Los Angeles Times reported July 26, 2008:

WASHINGTON — Beverly Hills shopping center magnate Peter Lowy refused to testify to Congress on Friday about his family’s use of overseas tax havens.

But senators tried to make up for his silence, offering accounts of shadowy shell corporations, secret transactions, mysterious acquisitions, exotic locations, all topped off by allegations of a late-night flight by Lowy this month to avoid a government subpoena.

A U.S. citizen who was born in Australia, Lowy invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination after listening to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) detail his family’s use of LGT, a private bank in Liechtenstein, to shelter $68 million from 1997 to 2001.

Lowy’s lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, denied that his client tried to avoid the subpoena, and the Lowy family issued a statement denying any tax evasion in the United States or Australia.

In his brief appearance, Lowy said, "Senator, I’m sorry, I mean no disrespect. But on the advice of my counsel I assert my rights under the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution not to answer any questions."

Lowy is head of the U.S. division of Australian-based Westfield Group, which operates 24 regional malls in California. His father, Frank Lowy, is worth $6 billion and is the third-wealthiest person in Australia, according to Forbes magazine.

Steven Greenfield, a New York toy importer, also declined to testify Friday before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which has been probing the use of overseas banks to shelter money from U.S. taxes.

The subcommittee, chaired by Levin, released the results of a six-month investigation last week detailing the practice, estimating that it cost the Treasury $100 billion a year. Many of the allegations come from documents provided by a former LGT employee to authorities in the U.S. and other countries.

"The Greenfield and Lowy case histories unfold like spy novels, with secret meetings, hidden funds, shell corporations, captive foundations and complex offshore transactions spanning the globe from the United States to Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, Australia and Hong Kong," Levin said.

Doesn’t sound very transparent to me. Perhaps Peter means that only his philanthrophy is transparent while business is business.

Hey, when I am in shul, I am the best boy around. It is only when I get out of shul and in front of my computer that I get into trouble. I’d like to describe my Judaism as "transparent." After all, I am held accountable by my live cam many hours a week. How can you get more transparent than that?

And when I give philanthropy — almost never! — I not only give my dollars, I give my time as well. It was just a few years ago that I distributed Purim baskets (shaloch manot) for my shul.

Truly Peter Lowy is not the only bloke in Pico-Robertson who’s a light unto the nations.

By the way, you can search the website with the utmost diligence and find no mention of Lowy’s tax troubles. That’s why Torah Jews have to rely upon me for news that is fair, balanced and unafraid.

Here is how Peter describes himself on the UJC website: "Peter Lowy serves as group managing director of the Westfield Group. Peter serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Governors for National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and he is a member of the management board of the European Public Real Estate Association. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia, the RAND Corporation Board of Trustees, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Executive Committee, and he serves on the board of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Peter holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Additionally, Peter recently completed his term as Chairman of the American Jewish University, and he serves on the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Peter Lowy and his wife arrived in Los Angeles nineteen years ago from Sydney, Australia. They are committed supporters of the Jewish community and Jewish education. Janine and Peter are Wexner alumni and active community members who continue to hold communal leadership roles. They are strong supporters of their synagogues, B’nai David-Judea and Temple Beth Am, and have also lent their support to Jewish Day Schools of all religious affiliations. Recent educational programs made possible by their support include: The Advanced Jewish Studies Center and the Tiferet Israel Fellows program, a 10th grade student semester in Israel at Milken Community High School; Jewish Student Union’s public high school teen programs; Etta Israel Center programs benefiting special needs children; the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/L.A. Partnership’s Education Twinning Program, Camp Ramah in California’s Camper Incentive Program, PEJE’s Financial Management Conferences for Day Schools; the Jaffa Institute’s “Welfare to Well Being” women’s training and education project, and the Master of Arts in Education for Working Professionals program at the American Jewish University. They also support scholars and research programs at the Washington Institute, RAND, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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