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.
Six years of investigation but the SEC doesn’t bring charges until the day that Charles Rangel is charged? I don’t think so. If they really had anything they would have charged sooner or they would wait a week to avoid the appearance that they were trying to distract from the Rangel investigation.
And what’s the point of tax shelters, if not to hide money? The tax system we have encourages — hell, practically demands — them. Of course, Treasury wants you to use their approved shelters rather than those horrible offshore operations, but the demand for shelters manifestly exceeds the supply, and we all know what the government understands about supply and demand. (Short version: well, technically, there can’t be a long version. Laws of physics, doncha know.)
Besides, the two situations aren’t strictly comparable. The Wylys occasionally create jobs; the Rangels of the world create only patronage.