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Campus North Residential Commons residential and dining facility at the University of Chicago. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Financier Steve Stevanovich, the subject of a fantastic investigation by the Chicago Maroon, sits on the storied board of trustees of the University of Chicago, alongside real billionaires like Ken Griffin and David Rubenstein.

Background: In 2006 he pledged $7 million to endow the the Stevanovich Center for Financial Mathematics; in 2014, he followed that up with another $10 million for something called the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. And in 2017, he started talking about a "nine-figure" donation, saying that his funds were worth billions of dollars.

Why it matters: Stevanovich's funds weren't worth billions. The Maroon reveals that far from being a billionaire, Stevanovich hasn't even managed to meet his existing pledges.

  • He's $2.8 million short on the $7 million pledge, he hasn't coughed up a penny of the $10 million pledge, and the university "has agreed not to accept payments" from him while he's embroiled in litigation surrounding his loans to a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. He's also being investigated by the SEC.

Between the lines: Stevanovich made $280 million lending money to convicted Ponzi schemer Thomas Petters; he got out, suspiciously, just before the scheme collapsed.

  • He also contrived to turn $12 million of loans to a company called Groen Brothers Aviation into a total debt, after interest, of $150 million.
  • That in turn allowed him to take control of the company and enter into a joint venture in Inner Mongolia which allegedly came with rights to 20 million tons of coal worth some $1 billion.

The SEC says that GBA only has one full-time employee. Its former employees are suing it for unpaid wages. But as recently as last year, Stevanovich was claiming that GBA (since renamed to Skyworks) was worth $1.7 billion, and that as soon as he could liquidate that investment, he could make good on all his pledges.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).