In an address to the Cleveland Club on October 26 at the National Press Club only one block from the U. S. Treasury Building, Larry Ross said the U. S. Government is likely losing as much as $100 billion year after year on account of off-shore money owned by U. S. individuals and business entities. He said UBS (a Swiss bank) recently paid $178 million in fines and revealed 4,500 accounts but has as many as 52,000 accounts which may be sheltering U. S. money. Many other banks could be sheltering money as well.
Larry told the group that the Cayman Islands is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of financial assets, holding four times more than all the bank assets in New York City. He quoted his former boss, the late Congressman Charlie Vanik, as saying the Cayman Islands may now be harboring a new kind of pirate, spiriting money away from spouses, tax collectors, and creditors. He also said that pressure on such traditional havens as Switzerland is pushing sheltered money to places such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Larry is a private investigator whose Ross Financial Services uncovers assets overseas for government agencies and business enterprises. He said that when searching for hidden assets overseas, he looks for anomalies in transactions. Once he finds some it is not too hard to trace funds, even if from country to country. He said he was suspicious of AIG as far back as 2006 when AIG said they were taking fees for reinsurance when any such actual reinsurance was difficult to document.
He finds it hard to understand why persons of high standing would take risks trying to cloak money overseas when being caught by the U. S. government is only one way of losing the money; others are to currency fluctuations, overseas law and regulation, and outright crime. “The chance of losing your money one way or another is pretty good,” he said.
Ross also lamented the loosening of moral strictures, notably with corporate money. “If the accounting firms were willing to go along – as, say, in the case of Enron – then the lawyers would step in with red flags. Nowadays you can’t count on the lawyers,” he said.