Bermuda legal documents show that on Jan. 1, 2003, the day before Romney was sworn in as governor, his wife's trust acquired 12,000 shares of Sankaty. The transfer was not made public. The month before, Romney had placed his assets in the state-approved trust overseen by Malt. The move legally allowed the trust to describe Romney's holdings in 2003 only as "various investments and securities" — without providing details. The trust filed similar disclosures between 2004 and 2007, the last year of Romney's term.
Romney's use of Sankaty as his partnership stake in Bain deals is documented in several U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports between 1998 and 2000. The company controlled 50,000 shares of Global-Tech Appliances Inc., a Chinese appliance firm that Bain briefly invested in. Sankaty was also used to manage 385,000 shares in the 1999 takeover of Domino's, as well as the $75 million investment into the Stericycle waste disposal firm and a $150 million investment in the US LEC telecommunication firm.
Romney was named as sole owner and president of Sankaty in several of those documents. Though no longer active at Bain by then because he had left to head Salt Lake City's Olympic Games bid, Romney remained a participant because of his partnership stake.
Even though Sankaty is no longer used for Bain investments, several tax analysts said its legal offshore status still could be used by Romney to defer some taxes on some of the "carried interest" income related to the Bain deals.
Romney has said he gets no tax break. He told an audience at a Maine town hall appearance in February that "I have not saved one dollar by having an investment somewhere outside this country."
But the lack of disclosure over the years, private equity experts said, makes it impossible to tell.
"Without knowing more about an offshore's history and how it was used," Fleischer said, "you're left in the dark."
Associated Press writer Josh Ball in Hamilton, Bermuda, contributed to this report.
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