Why hasn’t the Jewish Journal covered this story? It is again kowtowing to the rich and powerful?
One of California’s wealthiest residents and the owner of a New York toy manufacturer were among the moguls identified by Senate investigators today as allegedly using foreign accounts to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Peter Lowy, 48, of Los Angeles, owner of the Westfield shopping-center fortune along with his family, was one of those named in the bipartisan report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Lowy, whose company will lease space in the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York, is a deep-pocket contributor to both Democratic and Republican campaigns.
The 110-page report says that Lowy’s father, Frank Lowy, an Australian citizen, used Liechtenstein-based LGT Group to set up a series of shell companies, including a U.S. based foundation, to divert $68 million in assets. LGT removed any traces to the family to avoid detection by U.S. or Australian authorities, according to the report. Although Frank Lowy is Australian, his son, Peter, who is CEO of Westfield LLC, is a U.S. citizen living in California.
Lowy’s attorney, Robert Bennett, told ABC News that his client’s name was on the list of owners of secret accounts set up by the Liechtenstein bank, but that he had done nothing wrong.
According to the report: "Lowy. LGT used transfer companies and a foundation with a Delaware corporation to help the Lowys hide their beneficial interest in a foundation with $68 million in assets."
Lowy, 48, is group managing director of Westfield Holding, the largest publicly-held real estate company in the world. You know his well-serifed "W" beckoning you from afar to the Westfield shopping centers in Century City, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks — among some 120 others worldwide.
He also has served as chairman of the board of the University of Judaism during its merger negotiations with the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, forming a new institution of great resources, talent, property and promise — the American Jewish University.
Three years ago I met Lowy in his office overlooking Brentwood and the Santa Monica mountains. He had just been named chairman of the board of the University of Judaism. My biggest question was why a young, dynamic guy would want to take the chairmanship of an institution whose finances were known to be troubled and whose profile was less than world class.
Simple, Lowy explained to me. He believed in the mission of the University of Judaism to reach out to all Jews, regardless of affiliation or denomination.
"The UJ needs to be viewed as a community institution," he told me. "We need to be able to give these benefits to the Orthodox community, the Reform community, the Conservative community and the Reconstructionist community. We need to change the mindset of the community. It’s a very difficult job to do."
Step one for Lowy was getting the UJ on firm financial footing. The problem, he said, was that too many Jewish institutions don’t perform at the standards of well-run for-profit companies. He refinanced the university’s debt, halving the interest rate. He taught people to stay within a budget. Within a short time, more money was coming in than going out.
Fast-forward three years, and I’m back in Lowy’s office, hearing him explain how the Brandeis merger came about. The UJ’s solid grounding gave it the confidence and competence to pursue an idea Lowy knew in his gut was important. "Looking ahead 10, 15 years," he said, "I wondered where the UJ was going to physically grow."