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Corruption Chronicles

Politically Connected Avoid Taxes

Two of President George W. Bush’s top donors are included in a new Senate report that details how wealthy Americans use offshore havens to cheat the U.S. Government out of $70 billion in taxes annually.

Mentioned prominently in the 401-page report, published by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, are Texas businessmen Charles and Sam Wyly, two of the largest patrons of Bush’s lengthy political career.

The brothers gave more than $200,000 to Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns and were among the top nine donors of his presidential campaigns as well as the hosts of Bush’s record-breaking $21.3 million fundraiser on April 26, 2000. Additionally, Charles Wyly personally funded $2.5 million worth of “issue” advertisements attacking Bush’s Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, and promoting Bush.

The Senate report says the Wyly brothers made nearly $200 million through offshore stock option exercises but had yet to pay taxes. They then borrowed against their offshore accounts to buy jewelry, pay for portraits of family members, buy homes and operate properties.

Other politically connected billionaires are listed in the report, which explains how the offshore havens are a “black box” for stashing trillions of dollars, immune from tax, regulatory and law enforcement authorities.

Among them is media mogul Haim Saban, one of the world’s richest men with a net worth of nearly $3 billion. He has given money to both Democrats and Republicans, including Bush. The report lists a scheme created for Saban to avoid more than $300 million in taxes from the sale of one of his television stations. Not surprisingly, Saban has said that he never understood the transactions and had no idea and left it all to his advisors.


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