From Australian Financial Review May 12, 2016: Westfield Corporation’s Lowy family have publicly denied any involvement in the so-called Panama Papers that revealed the identities of some of Australia’s best-known companies and rich-listers who have used offshore companies and trusts for their operations.
The Australian Tax Office is investigating more than 800 high net worth Australian clients of the controversial Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has become the focus of the unprecedented leak of tax haven records.
“Somebody has borrowed our brand,” Westfield chief executive Peter Lowy said at the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Thursday.
“We were surprised to be named yesterday and since we saw that we have gone onto the website and had a look at all the companies there and none of them are ours,” Mr Lowy said.
“We have checked back through all our records and any of the companies that are listed on that website that have Westfield names, from our records, we don’t believe are ours.”
The Lowy family have been named in previous tax haven document leaks.
In 2002, a former bank employee Heinrich Kieber sold the bank account details of 3500 clients of his former employer, LG Treuhand, to the German secret service. That leak triggered a worldwide pursuit of offshore tax evaders and tax bills of up to $1 billion around the world on Liechtenstein investors.
The banking records included some of the wealthiest and most powerful business people in the world, including 20 Australian investors holding $110 million.
Mr Kieber’s records triggered ongoing tax audits of Frank Lowy and his family.
At the Westfield AGM on Thursday Mr Lowy was asked whether a recent decision not to list Westfield Corporation in the United States was because of tax benefits.
Mr Lowy said it was not.
…barely five weeks since we found Westfield’s billionaire patriarch Frank Lowy’s 2006 Global Express on the block for an eminently fair $US19.8 million ($26.5 million), we’ve discovered that the indefatigable Lowy family’s empire has splurged on two late model Gulfstream 550 jets – a model whose market value these days is circa $US50 million. #upgrade #bullmarket
The 550 can fly non-stop between Shanghai and Los Angeles. One of the two aircraft will be based in Los Angeles, for the business use of Westfield Corporation co-chief executive Peter Lowy (whose Beverly Hills pile Hillary Clinton could find with her eyes closed!), while the other is hangared in Sydney to carry chairman Frank and Westfield’s other co-CEO Steven Lowy from meeting to meeting. Both are owned by a Westfield-related entity. A third G550, used principally by Frank’s eldest son David, himself an aviator, is owned by the family’s private family office LFG. Which means the Lowys have now drawn equal with the disparate Pratt clan, each running three jets apiece. What self-respecting industrialist tribe would scrimp to a measly two private planes?!