A Senate panel is set to hold a hearing on Tuesday to scrutinize ethics concerns relating to US Supreme Court justices, following revelations about luxury trips and real estate transactions involving members of the nation's top judicial body. None of the nine justices will appear at the hearing, but lawyers and academics versed in the subject will provide testimony. The news outlet ProPublica has detailed ties between conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and wealthy Republican donor Harlan Crow, including real estate purchases and luxury travel paid for by the Dallas businessman. Additionally, Jane Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, reportedly earned over $10 million in commissions as a legal recruiter from 2007 to 2014, including from law firms that had cases before the Supreme Court. A whistleblower complaint from her former colleague argues that Roberts' commissions were largely due to her husband's role and should be subject to oversight. The complaint also alleges that John Roberts submitted financial disclosure documents identifying his wife's income as "salary" rather than commission, which the colleague argued is misleading. Again, none of the nine justices will appear at the hearing.
Gilead Sciences is facing a trial in Delaware federal court as the US government seeks more than $1 billion from the company for allegedly failing to compensate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for discovering that Gilead's HIV-treatment drug Truvada could help prevent the disease. The government claims that the patents it received for HIV prevention drug regimens cover Gilead's pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug regimen for lowering HIV infection risk. Gilead denies the allegations and argues the patents are invalid. The trial marks one of the first times the US government has sued a drug maker to enforce its patent rights.
My column this week discusses the use of "cashports," also known as "citizenship by investment" programs, that allow wealthy individuals to purchase citizenship, typically in countries that offer tax anonymity. I’m coining the term “cashport,” so I need the help of all the Minimum Competence listeners to make sure it really takes the world by storm. These programs, such as those offered by St. Kitts and Nevis, allow individuals to avoid paying taxes in their home countries and to hide their financial dealings. I argue that this practice is not only detrimental to tax revenues but also facilitates organized crime and terrorism. I call for greater transparency and for imposing penalties on individuals who use these programs to evade taxes. Additionally, I suggest curtailing financial access to tax havens and imposing restrictions on transfers to and from these countries.
One recent individual in the news making use of a cashport is The latest example of a billionaire keeping his money offshore is Harlan Crow. We’ve learned much about Crow over the past few weeks—as a friend and benefactor of Justice Clarence Thomas, a collector of Hitlerania and garden gnome versions of history’s greatest monsters, and a holder of a “cashport” to St. Kitts and Nevis. His use of offshore banks will likely obfuscate his financial dealings sufficiently that, barring a confession, the extent to which his largesse was used for Clarence Thomas will never be known.
JPMorgan Chase & Co, new owners of First Republic Bank, and Deutsche Bank AG could be held liable for Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse if former executive Jes Staley had first-hand knowledge of the financier's sex-trafficking venture, according to a US judge. Judge Jed Rakoff said that if Epstein's accusers can prove that Staley knew about the venture, they could show that JPMorgan "actually knew" or "recklessly disregarded" its existence. The decision concerns two lawsuits against the banks by Epstein's accusers, and a lawsuit against JPMorgan by the US Virgin Islands. All of the lawsuits are scheduled for trial this year.