Chicago - Mar. 16, 2018
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
Beachwood Politics
Our monthly archive.
Who We Are
Chicago by the numbers.
Sausage Links
Wiki Daley
Wiki Rahm
Illinois Channel
Ralph Martire
Government Attic
Division Street
Indie Political Report
The Obameter
The Intercept
American Dream Betrayed

The Paradise Papers: Last Stop - Chicago

"Now comes the story of the Asiaciti promotional tour of America. A newly released trove of documents gives us an incredible insight into the city-by-city itinerary of offshore specialists marketing their wares to American clients. It has all the classics of an American road trip, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Miami!" the International Consortium of Investigative Reporters reports.

Last stop: Chicago. Featuring Adrian Taylor, managing director at the Cook Islands branch of Asiaciti, a firm specializing in offshore companies and trusts. Let's take a look.

Asaiciti's Taylor was in Chicago for the last day of his tour.

By lunchtime, Gregory Bell, a computer science graduate with an MBA, was a satisfied new client, meeting notes recall. Bell created the Blue Sky Trust in the Cook Islands in July 2008 and handed it control of a Swiss bank account.

Two months later, Bell's life unraveled when FBI agents raided the home and office of his business partner, Thomas Petters.

U.S. officials accused Petters of fraud and money laundering central to a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme that was the largest in U.S. history at the time. Single mothers and retirees who invested half a century of savings were among the victims. Petters was charged in October that year and sentenced in April 2010 to 50 years in prison for orchestrating the massive fraud.

"Almost any time there's a sizeable Ponzi scheme, there are allegations people are taking some of the money offshore," said Kathy B. Phelps, an attorney who co-wrote The Ponzi Book.

While trusts are not unbreakable, Phelps said, victims and enforcement agencies can struggle to find them or even know they exist. "And once you've done that," Phelps said, "there's the question of whether you've got the cooperation" of the country where the trust is created and of the lawyers who helped set it up.

In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against Bell and his Illinois hedge fund. While he wasn't central to the underlying fraud, authorities said, the SEC complaint alleged that Bell was "blinded" by multimillion-dollar fees he earned from it and misled investors about Petters' background and the details of the scheme. The SEC named Asiaciti's trust arm as a co-defendant and Asiaciti's Taylor, who met Bell in Chicago, supplied affidavits in criminal and civil cases that were helpful to the case against Bell.

U.S. authorities alleged that Bell moved $15 million to his Cook Islands trust to avoid creditors and the government. Authorities said they wanted to recover millions of dollars "before the money disappears overseas."

Asiaciti's files show that Bell made insistent evening phone calls and a fax to lawyers in July 2008 as the Ponzi scheme neared collapse.

"Mr. Bell is anxious to submit the applications, and I would like to provide him with an update tomorrow," Bell's American lawyer wrote about paperwork needed to open a bank account.

Bell was arrested in July 2009 and pleaded guilty to intentionally defrauding investors. He helped return the $15 million to the United States and was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison. Contacted by ICIJ, Bell declined to comment."


From that last link:

"Bell came to the United States as a teen and worked his way through college and graduate school. He attended the University of Chicago's business school, graduating near the top of his MBA class . . . He started cooperating with prosecutors soon after his arrest at his Chicago-area home in the summer of 2009."


Back to ICIJ:

"Asiaciti also cooperated with U.S. authorities, and the company was never charged. But it could never quite shake its involvement.

"Once, e-mails show, Asiaciti struggled to persuade a bank where it was hoping to help open a client's account that it bore no responsibility for the fraud into which it was ultimately drawn after meeting Bell in Chicago all those years ago.

"Said Taylor about the bank's hesitation: 'Unfuckingbelievable.'"


More updates from ICIJ:

"We also published another story in our Inside Story series. This week, we take you to Burkina Faso in Africa to speak with Yacouba Ladji Bama. Bama worked on our Paradise Papers project, but not without several challenges - including finding a decent phone line and internet connection!"


"It's live! We've released another 290,000 companies related to the Paradise Papers into our Offshore Leaks Database. So now, you can search our database for more than 785,000 companies and 720,000 officers. You also can download the database to do more sophisticated analysis."


Previously in The Paradise Papers:

* 'Paradise Papers' Reveal Tax Avoidance, Shady Dealings Of World's Rich And Powerful.

* Just How Much Money Is Held Offshore? Hint: A SHIT-TON.

* Development Dreams Lost In The Offshore World.

* Keeping Offshore 'Hush Hush,' But Why?

* Tax Havens Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

* Today In Tax Avoidance Of The Ultra-Wealthy.

* Go To Town With This Offshore Leaks Database.

* The Paradise Papers: The View From Africa And Asia.

* The Paradise Papers: The End Of Elusion For PokerStars.

* The Paradise Papers: An Odd Call From The Bermuda Government.

* The Paradise Papers: Nevis Is An Offshore Haven Of Opportunity

* The Paradise Papers: The Long Twilight Struggle Against Offshore Secrecy.

* The Paradise Papers: A Fair Tax System Will Be Lost Without Public Pressure.

* Item: Today In The Paradise Papers: Through Death Threats And Scare Tactics, Honduran Reporter 'Perseveres.'

* The Paradise Papers: Journalists Flee Venezuela To Publish Investigation.


Previously in The Panama Papers:

* The Panama Papers: Remarkable Global Media Collaboration Cracks Walls Of Offshore Tax Haven Secrecy.

* The Panama Papers: Prosecutors Open Probes.

* The [Monday] Papers.

* Adventures In Tax Avoidance.

* Mossack Fonseca's Oligarchs, Dictators And Corrupt White-Collar Businessmen.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! They're All In It Together.

* Meet The Panama Papers Editor Who Handled 376 Reporters In 80 Countries.


Previously in tax scammage:

* Deepwater Horizon Settlement Comes With $5.35 Billion Tax Windfall.

* Offshoring By 29 Companies Costs Illinois $1.2 Billion Annually.

* Government Agencies Allow Corporations To Write Off Billions In Federal Settlements.

* The Gang Of 62 Vs. The World.

* How The Maker Of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing.

* $1.4 Trillion: Oxfam Exposes The Great Offshore Tax Scam Of U.S. Companies.

* How Barclay's Turned A $10 Billion Profit Into A Tax Loss.

* Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion A Year From German Taxpayers.

* German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals.

* Prosecutor Targets Commerzbank For Deals That Dodge German Taxes.

* A Schlupfloch Here, A Schlupfloch There. Now It's Real Money.

* How Milwaukee Landlords Avoid Taxes.

* Study: 32 Illinois Fortune 500 Companies Holding At Least $147 Billion Offshore.

* Watch Out For The Coming Tax Break Trickery.

* When A 'Tax Bonanza' Is Actually A Huge Corporate Tax Break.

* The Hypocrisy Of Corporate Welfare: It's Bigger Than Trump.

* Oxfam Names World's Worst Tax Havens Fueling 'Global Race To Bottom.'

* Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Illinois Small Business $5,789 A Year.

* State Tax Incentives To Corporations Don't Work.

* GOP Tax Plan Would Give 15 Of America's Largest Corporations A $236 Billion Tax Cut.

* Triumph Of The Oligarchs.

* Amazon Short-List Proves Something "Deeply Wrong" With America's Race-To-The-Bottom Economy.

* Apple's $38 Billion Tax Payment Less Than Half Of $79 Billion They Owe.

* U.S. Surpasses Cayman Islands To Become Second-Largest Tax Haven On Earth.


Previously in carried interest, aka The Billionaire's Loophole:

* Patriotic Millionaires Vs. Carried Interest.

* The Somewhat Surreal Politics Of A Private Equity Tax Loophole Costing Us Billions (That Obama Refused To Close Despite Pledging To Do So).

* Fact-Checking Trump & Clinton On The Billionaire's Tax Break.

* Despite Trump Campaign Promise, Billionaires' Tax Loophole Survives Again.

* Carried Interest Reform Is a Sham.


Comments welcome.


Posted on February 15, 2018

MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Flint Town.
POLITICS - We Killed Some Folks.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Let's Go Hobos!

BOOKS - The Soul Of America's Media.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter

Beachwood Radio!

Ask Me Anything!