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“Peter Lowy, the son of Australian billionaire Frank Lowy, appeared early Friday before a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating ways the ultra-wealthy use tax havens to avoid paying taxes,” Forbes reported in a story today. “But rather than uncover new information or help further the probe, Lowy apparently frustrated investigators when he declined to answer questions and instead asserted his rights under the fifth amendment.”
Forbes described Lowy as a “former investment banker in London and New York who is now reportedly a U.S. citizen.” According to the magazine:
Lowy’s father Frank, an immigrant and former deli owner, is executive chairman of Westfield Group, one of the world’s biggest shopping-mall chains, and one of Australia’s richest men. Worth an estimated $4.6 billion, he ranked No. 222 on the March 2008 Forbes Billionaires list. Peter, one of three sons, all of whom work in the business, is chief executive of Westfield’s U.S. operation, which has interests in 55 shopping malls in 13 states.
The Lowy family was “named in a Senate subcommittee report that delved into how the Swiss bank UBS and LGT Bank, which Liechtenstein’s royal family oversees, have assisted the rich in skipping out on paying taxes,” Forbes said. Frank Lowy recently released a statement in Australia “in which he rejects the Senate subcommittee’s characterization that he or his family took steps–including the establishment of a U.S. corporation–to hide assets or sidestep tax obligations. Lowy’s statement says the Senate subcommittee’s report relies on stolen documents.”
And guess which political campaigns Peter Lowy contributes to? According to Federal Election Commission records, he and his wife have given more than $30,000 to Senator Joe Lieberman since 2003. Oh, and Lieberman is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, of which the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — which issued the tax report Forbes mentioned and which is the committee which Peter Lowy appeared before last week — is part.
Peter Lowy and wife have also contributed more than $6,000 to Senator John McCain since 1999. And they have contributed to a host of other prominent political figures, including John Kerry, John Edwards, Christopher Dodd and Hillary Clinton (nearly $10,000). And add to that at least $75,000 to Democratic congressional committees and $25,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”