Over the weekend the New York Times and the Washington Post did some excellent investigative reporting into the shady finances of Donald Trump and his consigliere Michael Cohn. The more we learn about Cohn’s “pay to play” scheme, and the two pending lawsuits challenging Trump’s “pay tp play” scheme under the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the more this feckless GOP-controlled Congress has an obligation to investigate Trump’s tax records and financial dealings as president to “drain the swamp”: this is the most corrupt administration in recent American history.
Steve Benen has a decent short summary, The closer one looks at Trump’s finances, the louder the questions become:
Last summer, Donald Trump sat down with the New York Times, which asked whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have crossed “a red line” if the investigation into the Russia scandal extends to include examinations of the resident’s finances. “I would say yeah. I would say yes,” he replied, adding, “I think that’s a violation.”
Naturally, this generated no shortage of speculation as to why Trump is so concerned about scrutiny of his finances. For that matter, there’s no reason to separate questions about the president’s finances with the Russia scandal – because as Rachel Maddow has explained on her show more than once, there’s an amazing number of people from Russia who’ve purchased Trump properties over the years. (My personal favorite is the story of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the fertilizer king, who purchased a derelict Florida estate from the future president at an extreme markup.)
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Media, Party Politics, President, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged bribery, conspiracy, Department of Justice, Emoluments Clause, FBI, financial crimes, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, influence peddling, money laundering, pay-to-play, Special Counsel, Tax Evasion
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed a new 32-count indictment Read the Special Counsel’s indictment (.pdf) against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. The Washington Post reports, Special counsel Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case:
The indictment ratchets up pressure on Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, who were already preparing for a trial that could come later this year on fraud and money laundering charges.
The additional charges had been expected in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution of Manafort and Gates. Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and served as the campaign chairman from June to August of that year. Gates also served as a top official on Trump’s campaign [and the transition].
Mueller accused the men of lying on their income tax returns and conspiring to commit bank fraud to get loans. The indictment was filed in federal court in Virginia — a technical requirement because that was where the suspects filed their tax returns.
A court filing indicates that prosecutors initially sought to combine the new charges with the preexisting indictment in federal court in Washington, but Manafort declined to agree, leading to the possibility of two separate trials in two neighboring jurisdictions.
The new indictment offers a more detailed portrait of what prosecutors say was a multi-year scheme by Manafort and Gates to use their income from working for a Ukrainian political party to buy properties, evade taxes and support a lavish lifestyle even after their business connections in Kiev evaporated.
“Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. From approximately 2006 through the present, Manafort and Gates engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money,” the indictment charges.
From 2006 to 2015, Manafort, with help from Gates, allegedly failed to pay taxes on this money by disguising it as loans from offshore corporate entities, and by using foreign bank accounts to make payments to businesses in the United States on Manafort’s behalf.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Corruption, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged bank fraud, Department of Justice, FBI, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, money laundering, Special Counsel, Tax Evasion
So have you been reading about the “Paradise Papers” this week? Paradise Papers Shine Light on Where the Elite Keep Their Money:
It’s called the Paradise Papers: the latest in a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shedding light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens.
The core of the leak, totaling more than 13.4 million documents, focuses on the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people. Appleby helps clients reduce their tax burden; obscure their ownership of assets like companies, private aircraft, real estate and yachts; and set up huge offshore trusts that in some cases hold billions of dollars.
The New York Times is part of the group of more than 380 journalists from over 90 media organizations in 67 countries that have spent months examining the latest set of documents.
* * *
As with the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers leak came through a duo of reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was then shared with I.C.I.J., a Washington-based group that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the millions of records of a Panamanian law firm.
This week, The New York Times is publishing articles on the Paradise Papers that were reported in cooperation with our I.C.I.J. partners. Here is a roundup of the stories that have already been made public.
• Behind one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, Yuri Milner, was hundreds of millions of dollars in Kremlin funding. The documents show that Mr. Milner’s investment in Twitter relied on money from VTB bank, controlled by the Russian state. One of his most significant investors in Facebook relied on funding from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled institution. Mr. Milner is also an investor in Cadre, a New York-based real estate technology company founded by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Congress, Corruption, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, GOP War On..., Media, Party Politics, President, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged Tax Evasion
While you were distracted by the end of summer Labor Day weekend, a couple of new important developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation occurred.
First, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has enlisted an elite investigative unit of the IRS in his investigation. Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation:
Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.
This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.
And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.
Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.
Martin Sheil, a retired IRS Criminal Investigations agent, said “When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive.”
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, President, Scandals
Tagged conspiracy, Department of Justice, FBI, Foreign Policy, money laundering, National Security, obstruction of justice, Russia, Special Counsel, Tax Evasion
Tea-Publicans are the lickspittle servants of the wealthy plutocrats, sometimes referred to as “the 1%” (or more accurately, the top .01%). This is why Tea-Publicans are always pursuing tax cuts that redistribute what little wealth the “have nots” possess upwards to the “haves” at the top, for whom “having it all” is their ultimate dream.
But why should Americans give any tax cuts (actually tax expenditures for which government borrowing is required to cover the loss of tax revenue) to wealthy plutocrats when they are already cheating on their taxes by engaging in criminal tax evasion? Why reward them for criminal behavior?
A new study is reported in the Washington Post this morning. First, We now know who cheats on their taxes. (Hint: it’s not the poor or middle class.)
Social scientists find it hard to study many important questions because they don’t have good data: Tax evasion is one of those questions. For obvious reasons, tax cheats don’t have any desire to announce themselves in public. Nor is it easy to study tax evasion based on the people who get caught; they may not be representative. This means that the recent spate of leaks has been a gold mine for scholars interested in the causes and consequences of tax evasion. A new paper by Annette Alstadsaeter, Niels Johannesen and Gabriel Zucman uses these new data sources to come to a stark conclusion: Rich people are much more likely to cheat on their taxes than poor or middle class people.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Economics, Ethics, GOP War On..., International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Legislation, Party Politics, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged Tax Evasion
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that released the report “The Panama Papers” (Getty images, Panama City) last month, a leak of financial data of companies and individuals using tax havens to evade payment of taxes in their countries, How Reporters Pulled Off the Panama Papers, the Biggest Leak in Whistleblower History (“The leak includes more than 4.8 million emails, 3 million database files, and 2.1 million PDFs from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that, according to analysis of the leaked documents, appears to specialize in creating shell companies that its clients have used to hide their assets”), has now released a searchable data base of those records. ICIJ releases database revealing thousands of secret offshore companies:
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists publishes today a searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.
The data, part of the Panama Papers investigation, is the largest ever release of information about offshore companies and the people behind them. This includes, when available, the names of the real owners of those opaque structures.
The database also displays information about more than 100,000 additional offshore entities ICIJ had already disclosed in its 2013 Offshore Leaks investigation.
ICIJ is publishing the information in the public interest.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Corruption, Crime, Economics, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Media, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged banking, Tax Evasion