An Associated Press report says that a once-invisible offshore company has helped bolster Romney’s wealth even though it did not appear on his state or federal financial reports for 15 years.
President Obama’s reelection campaign seized on the report as raising further questions about their rival’s business background, prompting Romney’s campaign to seek to turn the focus back to Obama’s handling of the economy.
The offshore company, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors, is based in Bermuda. It recently posted $1.9 million in earnings, but the company did not appear on Romney’s disclosure forms until he released his 2010 tax returns during the primary campaign.
“The mystery surrounding Sankaty reinforces Romney's history of keeping a tight rein on his public dealings, already documented by his use of private e-mail and computer purges as Massachusetts governor and his refusal to disclose his top fundraisers,” AP wrote. “The Bermuda company had almost no assets, according to Romney's 2010 tax returns. But such partnership stakes could still provide significant income for years to come, said tax experts, who added that the lack of disclosure makes it impossible to know for certain.”
The omissions on Romney’s forms were allowed by those overseeing his ethics filings, according to AP, and the report noted that the campaign has said in the past that some disclosures were not required because they were below the $1,000 minimum threshold set by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. Some earnings may appear on tax forms but not on financial disclosure reports.
Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign’s national press secretary, said in an e-mail that the report “raises serious questions about whether Mitt Romney established a Bermuda corporation to avoid U.S. taxes and attempted to hide it from the public.” He called on Romney to release additional income-tax returns to see “whether he created this shell corporation to intentionally avoid paying U.S. taxes.”
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul countered: “President Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney have been proven false time and again. As job growth slows, manufacturing activity stalls, and our economy continues to sputter, President Obama knows he can’t make a legitimate argument for another term in office, so instead he is trying to tear down his opponent. This is just the latest example of President Obama and his political machine saying or doing anything to distract from his abysmal record over the last four years.”