Check out this AP story:
Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning – suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign….
Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney’s wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records obtained by The Associated Press….
Several U.S. Securities and Exchange documents from the late 1990s and 2000s depicted Romney as Sankaty’s owner at the time, but when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2001 and 2002, Romney did not list the company on annual disclosure forms required by the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.
The ethics commission would not comment on the omissions. Boston College law professor R. Michael Cassidy, who was a member of the commission at the time, said that if Romney “owned this business before he signed his ethics disclosure, then he was obliged to report it.” The state’s disclosure rules also allow a $1,000 minimum threshold. A six-year statute of limitations covering Romney’s ethics reports has since expired.
Bermuda legal documents show that on Jan. 1, 2003, the day before Romney was sworn in as governor, his wife’s trust acquired 12,000 shares of Sankaty. The transfer was not made public.
It’s not entirely clear, of course, exactly what Sankaty was for, though it seems reasonably clear that it was used as some sort of conduit in a bunch of Bain deals. In particular:
Romney’s use of Sankaty as his partnership stake in Bain deals is documented in several U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports between 1998 and 2000. The company controlled 50,000 shares of Global-Tech Appliances Inc., a Chinese appliance firm that Bain briefly invested in. Sankaty was also used to manage 385,000 shares in the 1999 takeover of Domino’s, as well as the $75 million investment into the Stericycle waste disposal firm and a $150 million investment in the US LEC telecommunication firm.
Romney was named as sole owner and president of Sankaty in several of those documents. Though no longer active at Bain by then because he had left to head Salt Lake City’s Olympic Games bid, Romney remained a participant because of his partnership stake.
Stericycle is an especially sensitive topic for reasons that quickly become apparent from, say, this story. But from the local perspective, the really interesting question is why Romney thought it advisable to transfer ownership of Sankaty to his wife one day before being sworn in as Governor. Since the statute of limitations on violations of the ethics laws during Romney’s governorship has apparently expired, we’ll probably never know.
If you want to learn more about Romney’s byzantine and fascinating offshore investment portfolio, do not miss this Vanity Fair report. Joan Vennochi reminds us of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s immortal line: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” Never is that more obvious than when you’re reading something like that Vanity Fair story.