Jacob “Jack” Lew, NYU’s Executive Vice President of Operations from 2001-2006, has come under fire from senators for suspect financial dealings during his time at NYU.
While Lew was an NYU administrator, the university made Citigroup a “preferred lender,” which could lead students to believe the bank offered the lowest loan rate. But Citi didn’t, in fact, offer the lowest rates and the university was later found to have pushed Citigroup loans in exchange for cash and other incentives. The loans were deemed “deceptive and at times illegal” by the Attorney General, and NYU paid out $1.4 million to students; Citigroup paid $2 million.
Where does Lew fit into all this? You might not expect the VP of Operations (Currently Allison Leary, who we last saw sending emails about Nemo) to be embroiled in a financial scandal. But after leaving NYU, Lew headed straight to Citigroup where he took a job as COO.
“While you were at NYU, did you have any conversations with Citigroup officials about these kickbacks?” asked Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley at Lew’s confirmation hearings for Treasury Secretary last week. “If so, please describe them.”
Further complicating the matter is the outsize salary Lew received at NYU: According to NYU tax filings, in 2002 Lew was NYU’s highest-paid administrator, earning $840,339 — more than the salary of his boss, President Sexton. NYU did not respond to our request for comment on why Lew might have received unusually high payment.
A further look into NYU’s tax forms from reveals that in 2002, as he was receiving such a large salary, Lew took a personal loan from NYU of $1,448,208. Professor Andrew Ross told us that Lew’s career path “perfectly [illustrates] the revolving door, or shuttle might be a better term–between Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and academe.”
Despite the criticism coming Lew’s way — for both his time at NYU as well as Citigroup, where he received a bonus of nearly $1 million while the bank was being propped up by taxpayer dollars — he is reportedly likely to receive confirmation by the senate.
We have reached out to NYU administration for comment, and have yet to hear back. We’ll update when we do.