N.H. AG rejects need to probe Dartmouth on trustee conflicts

Oct 12 (Reuters) - The New Hampshire Attorney General has found no basis to investigate a complaint against Dartmouth College for potential conflicts of interest over investments with firms owned by some of the school's board of trustees.

"We have determined that, based on the information provided, an official investigation is not warranted at this time," Anthony Blenkinsop, director of the AG's charitable trusts division, wrote in a four-page letter to the university on Friday.

The AG's office had said in May that it was reviewing an anonymous letter alleging that Dartmouth's endowment steered business to well-known investment firms like Apollo Global Management and Lone Pine Capital, which were owned by members of the school's board of trustees and investment committee.

The anonymous letter alleged some Dartmouth alumni had "directed the college's three billion dollar endowment to themselves, their firms and their friends." The letter, which claimed to be written by former and current faculty, said the investments were conflicts of interest with the college's not-for-profit status.

But the Attorney General's response on Friday indicated that the transactions appeared to be allowable based on the requirements of the state's laws governing charitable trusts. "We find no merit in the complaint to the extent it contends Dartmouth has violated the law simply by engaging in these types of transactions with its trustees," Blenkinsop wrote.

Dartmouth, situated in Hanover, New Hampshire, has all along denied any wrongdoing.

"The Attorney General's finding that these anonymous and baseless allegations are without merit speaks to the rigor of Dartmouth's policy and practice," university spokesman Justin Anderson said in a statement. "As we have said previously, Dartmouth meets or exceeds all the requirements of New Hampshire law with regard to its endowment investments and for investments with firms managed by trustees or Investment Committee members."

Lone Pine Capital is run by Stephen Mandel, a 1978 graduate of Dartmouth and chairman of the college's board of trustees. Apollo Global Management founder Leon Black served as a trustee from 2002 until 2011. Earlier this year, he and his wife agreed to donate $48 million to the college for a new visual arts center.

(Reporting by Aaron Pressman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)


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