College Scandal Mastermind Says He Worked with Wealth Firms
Morgan Stanley and UBS are among the firms that the mastermind of the college admissions scandal used to source wealthy clients, according to his firm’s website and social network postings.
William “Rick” Singer, who pled guilty on Tuesday to receiving about $25 million to help children of the very rich get admitted to colleges through bribes and test-cheating, said his “life coaching and college counseling” firm’s core business, The Key, hooked up with wealth management firms to find prospects.
“The Key…is being launched with the advent of Morgan Stanley, Oppenheimer Financial [sic], UBS and PIMCO in order to utilize the life-coaching model for employees’ private wealth management clients and executives as a corporate benefit,” the firm’s website says.
In a 2014 Facebook posting, Singer flogged “fifty simple secrets…shared with the families of Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney Oppenheimer [sic], and many others who have elected to have the odds of admission in their favor.”
Wall Street wealth managers catering to the investment needs of the rich have long offered concierge services through outside firms that range from arranging exotic vacations and purchasing fine art to planning for legacy care of their pets. However, the companies mentioned on Singer’s site denied having any relationship with Key, or said they cut off ties years ago.
“Oppenheimer & Co. at one point had a very limited relationship with Key Worldwide Foundation, which it subsequently severed,” a spokeswoman said, referring to an entity that Singer created to allegedly funnel money to ‘disadvantaged’ students. “The Key Worldwide Foundation represented itself to Oppenheimer as a college tutoring service for students.”
A source who identified himself as a former Morgan Stanley complex manager said he was aware of “numerous client events” in the Los Angeles area that featured Singer, who lives in Newport Beach and whose firm is based in Sacramento.
“We ended our relationship with him in 2013,” a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. She declined to comment on the allegation from the source.
A UBS spokesman flatly denied working with Key or its so-called foundation, currently or in the past. “Our firm has no relationship with this organization,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Pimco, the fixed-income asset management giant, is “not aware of any such partnership” with what Key referenced on its website, a spokeswoman wrote in an email.
In announcing the arrests Tuesday of some 50 people, the FBI and the Department of Justice said Singer, who is 58, was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Pimco’s former chief executive, Douglas Hodge, was among the alleged clients of Key who were charged.