The Guardian’s Nick Davis, with David Leigh, has another stunner on the hacking scandal. They report that Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, which last week charged eight News Corp. journalists and executives with crimes, is considering criminal charges against the company’s board of directors.
Directors within Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation could face corporate charges and prosecution for neglect of their duties, in plans that are being examined by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Company lawyers, fearing a dramatic escalation of the hacking scandal by criminalising the boards on which Murdoch family members sit, are understood to have protested to the authorities…
One problem for News International, however, is the wording of section 79 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the hacking legislation under which eight senior News of the World journalists and executives have already been charged. It provides for the corporate prosecution of a company which commits such an offence, and also of any director whose neglect or connivance led to the crime.
A prosecution of board directors seems far-fetched from what we know, but with this story nothing would be surprising.
— Columbia’s Michael Graetz, a Bush I tax official, has one of the best takes I’ve seen on why Mitt Romney won’t release more of his tax returns. Romney’s stance is inviting speculation, however outlandish, about what he’s hiding.
Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A.
Mr. Romney’s Cayman Islands and Bermuda corporations also probably allowed him to avoid limitations on deductions for investment expenditures that would otherwise apply. So we don’t need any more tax returns to know that Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.
Graetz calls for Romney to release at least more years of income tax returns plus gift tax forms from the mid-90s when he set up his trust fund babies for life:
Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts, certainly a small fraction of the price at which he would have sold the transferred assets to an unrelated party. Otherwise, he should be happy to release his gift tax returns. According to a partner at Mr. Romney’s trustee’s law firm, valuing carried interests, such as Mr. Romney’s interests in the private equity company Bain Capital, at zero for gift tax purposes was common advice given to clients like Mr. Romney in the 1990s and early 2000s.