Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hidden Wealth

Mitt Romney may have more money than we think he does.

Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney’s wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records obtained by The Associated Press. The Romneys’ ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney’s two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys’ 2010 tax records, released under political pressure earlier this year, confirmed their continuing control of the company.

Hey, I’m not going to begrudge someone for having a stinkload of money if they obtained it legally. American dream and all that. But it makes you wonder why the Romneys have never mentioned it before. Of course, since it’s only $1.9 million, it’s probably not worth mentioning, right?

(That reminds me of an anecdote from Mark Twain. Someone commented on a rich man’s wealth and said his money was “tainted.” Mr. Twain replied, “Yep; ’tain’t yours and ’tain’t mine.”)