L.A. Kabbalah center embraced by Madonna is subject of IRS probe

A Los Angeles–based spiritual organization whose followers include Madonna and other celebrities is the focus of a federal tax evasion probe.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating whether nonprofit funds from the Kabbalah Centre’s estimated $260 million in assets were used as a piggy bank by the family that runs it.

For more than 40 years, the Berg family has controlled the spiritual group that preaches a little-known strain of Jewish mysticism.

The Bergs and the Kabbalah Centre are named in subpoenas as subjects of a grand jury probe alongside Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity. Madonna abandoned plans to build a girls’ school in Malawi earlier this year because of logistical problems.

The charities say they are cooperating with the investigation.

The federal investigation follows several lawsuits about the center’s finances. One ongoing case alleges the center wrongly cashed in on $2.9 million in a $68 million Ponzi scheme.

In another suit, an heiress accused the Bergs and other Kabbalah Centre associates of bilking her out of $1.3 million.

A former member alleges she was pushed to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in an Orange County branch and a home-schooling program that never came to fruition. The Kabbalah Centre has called the suits meritless. — ap