Malt said the account was closed for "diversification" in early 2010. He said he made the decision to close the Swiss account because it "just wasn't worth it." Malt sidestepped a question about whether he closed the account because it could be a political liability, saying it "might or might not be inconsistent with Gov. Romney's political views." Malt has sold off other accounts in recent years — including investments in firms that did business with Iran and China — because of possible political inconsistency or embarrassment with Romney's political positions.
Malt also confirmed that some of Romney's investments are routed through affiliate funds set up in the Cayman Islands. But he insisted there were no actual offshore accounts, and added that Romney paid the same amount of U.S. taxes using the Cayman affiliates as he would have if the investment funds were set up in the U.S.
Romney's campaign confirmed the details of his tax information after several news organizations saw a preview of the documents. He had said he planned to release his returns in full Tuesday morning.
"You'll see my income, how much taxes I've paid, how much I've paid to charity," Romney said during Monday night's debate in Tampa. "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."
Romney's 2010 returns show the candidate is among the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The returns showed about $4.5 million in itemized deductions, including $1.5 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Romney's charitable giving is above average, even for someone at his income level. In 2009, more than 37 million filers claimed charitable deductions averaging more than $4,000. Among those making more than $10 million, the average charitable deduction was about $1.7 million, according to the IRS.
Before the tax records were released, Romney's old investments in two government-backed housing lenders stirred up new questions at the same time his campaign targeted Gingrich for his work for Freddie Mac.
Gingrich earned $1.6 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac. Romney has as much as $500,000 invested in the U.S.-backed lender and its sister entity, Fannie Mae.
The fight over releasing the tax information highlighted an argument that Democrats are already starting to use against Romney — that he is out-of-touch with normal Americans. And it probably hurt him in the South Carolina primary, where he lost by 12 percentage points to Gingrich after spending several days resisting calls to release the returns.
In Monday's debate, Romney would not answer questions from moderator Brian Williams of NBC about just what pieces of his tax returns could cause political headaches. But they will shine the spotlight on a fortune estimated at between $190 million and $250 million, and could raise questions about where he keeps his money and how he earns it.
It's clear that Romney's campaign is bracing for an onslaught of criticism of his personal fortune. His wife, Ann, has started talking about the returns during campaign appearances. She told supporters at a Florida rally Sunday: "I want to remind you where we know our riches are. Our riches are with our families."
Most of Romney's vast fortune is held in a blind trust that he doesn't control. A portion is held in a retirement account.
Gillum and Associated Press writers Stephen Braun and Stephen Ohlemacher reported from Washington.
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