Hillary Clinton is repeating the Democrat trope about “offshore tax havens” that immorally divert profits from workers and the taxman. Closing these is a central plank of her promised agenda as President, she explains in an op-ed laying out her economic agenda.
Setting aside the economic merits of her plan, the proposal is a little rich coming from Hillary Clinton.
Just ten years ago, when she and Bill were building the Clinton Presidential Library, they received a critical short-term loan from a supporter’s “offshore tax haven.” Like most everything else with the Clinton family, the rules and policies they promote are for other people.
Or, it’s possible that the Clintons focus their policies on particular abuses and unethical actions because, having benefited from them, they have a unique perspective on how these actions work.
When the Clinton Library opened in 2004, it obtained a $10 million loan from Titanium Acquisition Corporation, a Delaware-based company owned by Haim Sabin, a Democrat media mogul and close friend of the Clintons.
The loan was bridge-financing to cover construction-related expenses as the Library waited to receive pledged donations. It was repaid several months later, with Sabin forgiving the 2.8 percent interest charged for the loan.
A subsequent federal investigation found that Titanium was created by Sabin, and his tax lawyers and accountants, to avoid taxes on his sale of Fox Family Channel to Disney. Sabin earned $1.7 billion from the sale of the channel. A Senate Subcomittee investigation found that Titanium used a shell-corporation in the Isle of Man, a well-known tax haven, for a series of complex stock transactions to avoid all taxes on the sale.
Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee, Mr. Sabin said the complicated deal was intended to provide “full tax deferral of the Disney sale, ad infinitum.”
It is worth reviewing the Senate’s summary of Sabin’s deal to avoid taxes. It provides a rare glimpse into the opaque world of high-level, phantom transactions to avoid taxes:
To review, a phony Isle of Man corporation sold stock it didn’t own to another phony Isle of Man corporation for money it didn’t have. The fake stock was lent back with fake cash as security for repayment of the loan, and the fake loss on the stock price was transferred out to offset real gains. No real economic activity took place, but one critical thing happened – a $9 billion paper portfolio was created. This paper portfolio originated with Jackstones and Barnville, shell operations with no employees, no offices, and paid-in capital of £2 – that’s about $5 each.
The final step in the POINT scheme was for Barnville to sell the paper losses to wealthy individuals, including Haim Saban and Robert Wood Johnson IV. These clients used the paper losses to offset real capital gains. Mr. Saban used POINT to offset about $1.5 billion in capital gains; Mr. Johnson offset about $143 million.
Of course the other individual noted in the Senate report is an heir of the Robert Wood Johnson fortune. The family’s eponymous foundation is a major donor to countless left-wing causes and organizations.
As Hillary amplifies her campaign rhetoric against “tax havens” it is worth remembering, then, that the $10 million bridge loan from Sabin to the Clintons was from proceeds of transactions with an “offshore tax haven” whose sole purpose was to divert profits and avoid federal taxes.
Sabin’s use of the offshore tax havens to avoid taxes on a multi-billion dollar sale was so egregious, in fact, that it caught the attention of the IRS. Sabin was ultimately forced to settle with the IRS, paying $250 million to avoid charges of tax evasion. His advisors, however, were convicted of federal crimes.
In spite of the public revelations of his tax avoidance scheme, Mr. Sabin remains a close confidante of the Clintons. He and his wife, Cheryl, have contributed $10-25 million to the Clinton Foundation. Cheryl Saban is a voting member of the Clinton Foundation Board.
In May, Bill Clinton earned $250,000 for a speech at Univision, the Spanish-language network owned by Haim Sabin. A day after Bill Clinton’s speech was announced, Sabin hosted a $2,700 a plate fundraising for Hillary Clinton at his Los Angeles home.
In her op-ed Tuesday, Hillary Clinton promised to:
Close the loopholes and end the tax breaks that allow a few big corporations to profit just by stashing their money in offshore tax havens with the help of their lawyers and accountants. I’ll encourage companies to share corporate earnings with their workers, not just their executives.
Clinton, to be fair, is in a particularly special position to understand how “offshore tax havens” work and how those loopholes can be “closed.” At the next board meeting of the Clinton Foundation or a future fundraiser for her Presidential campaign, she can simply ask Haim Sabin about them.
He has profited handsomely off such transactions and can no doubt provide her with some real-world experience about them. That is, after he writes her family another round of checks.