“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.