Plaintiff Sues For Harvard Donor’s Records

March 13, 2017       Andy Segedin      

A federal judge has given Harvard University until March 20 to turn over the financial information of a top donor and alum, Charles Spackman. It is unclear as of yet whether the university will comply.

Judge William G. Young of the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, granted the request of petitioner Sang Cheol Woo. The order entitles Woo to take discovery from, serve subpoenas to, and be provided requested deposition testimony and documents by the president and fellows of the university.

A memorandum filed in support of the order asserts that Woo suffered large financial losses from an alleged self-dealing transaction that Spackman gained $100 million from early last decade. Woo received judgment in his favor against Spackman in South Korea’s Seoul High Court in 2011, a sum that, including interest, currently totals about $12 million, according to the memorandum. Woo is seeking to enforce the South Korean judgment in Hong Kong, where Spackman resides.

Woo’s counsel further contends in the memorandum that, due to Spackman’s history of donating to the university, Harvard is likely in possession of records containing wire transfer data, account and routing numbers and other information relevant to the financial institutions and accounts used by Spackman, as well as payments made on his behalf by a family trust that could also hold assets that would be subject to the judgment. Additionally, it states that information regarding the size of Spackman’s past donations could illustrate his ability to pay the judgment.

The request and order were made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782 which enables the federal district court in which an individual resides to order him to provide testimony, statements, or documentation for use in foreign or international legal proceedings.

A Harvard spokesperson declined comment when asked whether the university intends to comply with the order. Requests for comment from other related entities were also declined.

  • financial donor information
  • Harvard University
  • Sang Cheol Woo