Mitt Romney’s reluctance to release his tax returns suddenly makes perfect sense. According to a report filed by the ABC News investigative team late on Wednesday, the Romneys have invested millions of dollars in offshore tax havens — specifically, in several accounts domiciled in the “notorious” Cayman Islands.
Headlined “Romney Parks Millions In Cayman Islands,” an article on the network’s website describes Romney as “one of the wealthiest candidates to run for president in recent times,” adding that “he has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune.” Earlier this week he admitted paying as little as 15 percent of his multi-million-dollar income in federal taxes. But the ABC report said that “in addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry.” Romney has at least one other holding, with a value he estimated between $5 million and $25 million, that securities records show is domiciled in the Caymans. ABC also reports that Bain Capital, Romney’s private equity firm, “has set up some 138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans” for its clients and partners.
Back in April 2008, the same ABC investigative team, led by correspondent Brian Ross, reported that then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, had invested in a Caymans-based company with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle as part of a broader business partnership that was later dissolved. Right-wing commentators instantly and eagerly suggested abuse of the tax code and other wrongdoing, although the Clintons’ subsequent release of their tax records showed they had paid normal top-brakcet rates. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has been a candidate for public office repeatedly over the past two decades without releasing his taxes — yet those same right-wing sources voice little or no criticism of him.
As for President Obama, his administration has endorsed and supported international efforts to shut down or at least mitigate the impact of offshore tax havens. Running for president in 2007, then-Senator Obama quoted a familiar description of the Caribbean money sinkhole: “There’s a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 U.S. corporations, which means it is either the largest building in the world or the biggest tax ripoff in the world, and I think we know which one it is.”
A Romney campaign spokesman told ABC that the Cayman accounts had no effect on the tax liability of the candidate and his wife Ann. But offshore banking expert and former top Congressional investigator Jack Blum said of the Republican frontrunner: “His personal finances are a poster child of what’s wrong with the American tax system.”