It’s a tenet in line with the Merages’ charitable goals.

“It is our family’s tradition to promote education as a means of improving life conditions and successful life outcomes,” states the website of a foundation named for the brothers’ parents. The Merage family didn’t respond to emails and phone messages requesting comment.

Wealthy families face distinct risks when members run afoul of a clan’s carefully constructed image and values. The Merages appeared to be particularly aware of the importance of a good public persona. Their family offices’ websites are professional and relatively transparent, with details on some investments and the origin of their wealth. Family members have spoken openly about their investments, heritage and the challenges of being an heir. David’s 34-year-old daughter, Sabrina, once ran a reputation-management consulting firm targeting high net-worth individuals.

‘Reputational Aspect’

“You don’t want [the scandal] to start putting question marks into what’s already happened in terms of donations,” said Eliot Wilson, head of research at London-based reputation management firm Right Angles. “Obviously there’s a very important reputational aspect of being a well-known philanthropist who’s given generously and nobly. You don’t want that tainted in any way.”

Janavs’s guilty plea is probably the best way for the family to draw a line under the disgrace, he said. “They’ll need to take this on the chin.”

That could be complicated by her sentence. Only one parent has escaped jail time so far, getting probation in recognition of his quick guilty plea as well as being “the only one in front of me who didn’t try to convince himself” the scheme was legitimate, the judge said.

Hodge is the only parent sentenced to have waited as long as Janavs to change pleas. He got nine months in prison as Judge Nathaniel Gorton -- who will be sentencing Janavs as well -- said “your conduct in this whole sordid affair is appalling and mind-boggling.” It’s the longest sentence issued in the case.

This article provided by Bloomberg News.

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