[Marxism] Major donor to ultraright causes were crooks

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 30 07:30:46 MDT 2010

SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to GOP with fraud

By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010; A01

Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained 
prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political 
causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to 
generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock 
trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.

The Wylys, who have been generous contributors to the Republican 
Party and GOP candidates, have spent the past several years facing 
questions, including from a Senate investigative committee, about 
whether they hid millions of dollars in tax shelters abroad.

Through their lawyer, the Wylys denied all charges.

According to the SEC, the brothers, who live in Dallas, created an 
elaborate and clandestine network of accounts and companies on the 
Isle of Man and in the Cayman Islands. The brothers then used 
these accounts and companies to trade more than $750 million of 
stock in four public companies on whose boards they served, not 
filing the disclosures required for corporate insiders, the SEC said.

In one case, the SEC alleges that the Wylys traded based on 
insider information they learned as board members, netting a 
profit of $32 million.

"The cloak of secrecy has been lifted from the complex web of 
foreign structures used by the Wylys to evade the securities 
laws," Lorin L. Reisner, deputy director of SEC enforcement, said 
Thursday in a statement announcing the civil charges.

The agency is seeking unspecified financial penalties and a 
variety of other sanctions, including barring the Wylys from 
serving as directors or top executives of public companies.

William Brewer III, a lawyer representing the Wylys, said they 
intend to clear their name.

"After six years of investigations, the SEC has chosen to make 
claims against the Wyly brothers -- claims that, in our view, are 
without merit," Brewer said in a statement. "It will come as 
little surprise to those who know them that the Wylys intend to 
vigorously defend themselves -- and expect to be fully vindicated."

Charles Wyly, 76, and Sam Wyly, 75, have led a largely reclusive 
life, with their public persona defined by their political 
activities. Charles Wyly and his wife, Dee, have given more than 
$1.5 million to more than 200 Republican candidates, party 
committees and conservative political action committees over the 
past 20 years, according to an analysis by the Center for 
Responsive Politics. Sam Wyly and his wife, Cheryl, gave more than 
$970,000 over the same period, the analysis shows.

The Wylys have given to dozens of Republican candidates, none more 
so than the Bush family. The brothers were supporters of the 
campaigns of former President George H. W. Bush and his son, 
former President George W. Bush.

In 2000, the Wylys financed a third-party group, Republicans for 
Clean Air, that launched a television advertising broadside 
against George W. Bush's chief opponent, Sen. John McCain 
(R-Ariz.), on the eve of crucial GOP presidential primaries. Later 
that year, the brothers each gave $100,000 to fund Bush's 
inaugural festivities.

In 2004, the Wylys helped fund Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 
another third-party organization that ran controversial television 
ads attacking the military record of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), 
Bush's Democratic opponent.

"They are among the biggest of the big when it comes to campaign 
bank-rollers, and their donors list is a who's who of the 
Republican Party over the past decade," said Dave Levinthal, a 
spokesman at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. "It's 
almost hard to find prominent Republicans who haven't been a 
beneficiary of their financial largess. They've definitely been 
very kind, financially speaking, to a number of Republicans."

Their biggest beneficiaries include three Texas Republicans, Sen. 
Kay Bailey Hutchison, National Republican Congressional Committee 
Chairman Pete Sessions and former House Republican leader Richard 
K. Armey, according to the Center for Responsive Politics 
analysis. The Wylys also have given to Senate Minority Leader 
Mitch McConnell (Ky.), former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani 
and many other members of the GOP.

Both brothers, according to Forbes magazine, are billionaires who 
amassed their fortune by founding a computer company and investing 
in a wide range of interests including oil, insurance and 
restaurants. In 1979, Sam Wyly faced sanctions by the SEC for 
improper regulatory disclosures.

They have been the subject of probes into potential financial 
wrongdoing since then. In 2006, the Senate permanent subcommittee 
on investigations completed a report on tax havens that focused on 
the Wylys.

Over 13 years, the Wylys used an "armada" of lawyers, brokers and 
other professionals to manage hundreds of millions of dollars in 
transactions that amounted to "the most elaborate offshore 
operations reviewed by the Subcommittee," according to the panel's 

In announcing its case, the SEC alleged that the Wylys' improper 
trades benefited them in many ways. They used the proceeds to buy 
art, collectibles, and jewelry worth tens of millions of dollars, 
according to the complaint. They spent $100 million to buy real 
estate, including two ranches in Aspen, Colo., two condominiums in 
Aspen, and a 100-acre horse farm outside Dallas. They also used 
the proceeds to cover charitable contributions made by the Wylys, 
including $8 million to Sam Wyly's business school alma mater and 
a $2.5 million contribution to a church Charles Wyly attended.

The agency alleges that the Wylys committed fraud and various 
other violations of securities laws while sitting on the boards of 
four companies over the course of a decade: Michaels Stores, 
Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce and Scottish Annuity & Life 

The SEC says that by using offshore accounts to trade shares of 
these public companies, the Wylys were able to escape filing the 
regulatory disclosures required of board members when they buy or 
sell shares.

By keeping their trading activity secret, the Wylys deprived 
outside investors of information they could use "to gauge the 
sentiment of public companies' insiders and large shareholders 
about the financial condition and prospects of those companies," 
the SEC said.

In one instance, the Wylys used insider information to make an 
offshore purchase of shares in Sterling Software, where they 
served as chairman and vice chairman, according to the complaint. 
They did not disclose the purchase even though they knew the 
company was soon going to be sold, according to the SEC. Less than 
four months later, Sterling Software was sold, and the Wylys 
netted nearly $32 million.

"The Wylys have always received the advice and counsel of leading 
accounting and legal professionals," said Brewer, the brothers' 
attorney in the SEC matter. "They have never been given any reason 
to believe the financial transactions in question were anything 
other than legal and fully appropriate."

The SEC also charged the Wylys' longtime personal attorney, 
Michael French, and their stockbroker, Louis Schaufele III, for 
their roles in the alleged scheme. French also served on the board 
of three of the companies.

A lawyer for French did not return calls or e-mails seeking 
comment. A lawyer for Schaufele declined to comment.

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