The largest amount that the bribery scandal at the top American universities has revealed so far is $6.5 million. The Chinese business family Zhao paid that fabulous sum to allow daughter Yusi to study at Stanford University. But the mother claims that she herself is the victim of the pivotal figure William ‘Rick’ Singer: “We wanted to help others”. The university itself confirms that it has never seen the millions.
The American jet set prefers to store the brood at the elite universities of the country. They are very expensive in themselves, but recently it turned out that bribes are often paid to get a place for the students to study. The two most famous mums who were seduced by this form of fraud are actresses Felicity Huffman (56) and Lori Loughlin (54). The first – known from ‘Desperate Housewives’ – pleads, along with thirteen other defendants, guilty. Loughlin and her husband maintain their innocence. A total of fifty people would be involved in the bribery scandal, in which the 58-year-old Singer appears to be the key figure.
William “Rick” Singer admitted that he encouraged wealthy families to make a donation to increase their chances of finding a place for their sons and/or daughters at renowned American universities such as Stanford, Yale, and Georgetown. The prospective students were portrayed as outstanding athletes within a certain sports discipline, which in reality they were not at all, or they received help with the entrance exam. That way they could easily get into a prestigious union.
The Chinese Zhao also paid a record amount of $6.5 million. She said she went to Singer’s company because she did not know the admission procedures for universities in the US. It was a former Morgan Stanley adviser who had referred her – in good faith, he says – to Singer. When daughter Yusi was already at Stanford, Singer indeed asked her for a donation through his foundation. He claimed, still according to Yusi’s mother, that the money was intended “for the wages of the academic staff, for scholarships, for sports programs and as help for students who otherwise could not afford to take lessons at Stanford.”
The mum of Yusi Zhao now declares that she did not realize that she had been misled until something had leaked to the press. “Her generosity has been abused and her daughter has been the victim of a scam,” says her attorney’s statement. “Both Mrs. Zhao and Yusi are shocked and deeply upset by what happened.”
Stanford University says in its own statement that it has never received $6.5 million from Singer, nor from a family that worked with Singer. “Stanford was not aware of this,” it sounds.
To be continued.