Congratulations to forensic journalist Neil Chenoweth and his colleagues on their 2008 Walkley Award for Business Journalism: an investigation into the failed stockbrokers Opes Prime.
I interviewed Chenoweth in 2002 for a Masters paper on Rupert Murdoch’s negotiation strategies. During our talk, Chenoweth gave me a couple of “aha!” moments on how to conduct a forensic journalism investigation, Murdoch’s use of game theory to understand other parties in a deal, and the murky underworld of cable and satellite television.
Chenoweth writes regularly for the Australian Financial Review, an Antipodean equivalent of the pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal. Chenoweth’s Virtual Murdoch: Reality Wars on the Information Superhighway (Secker & Warburg, London, 2001), published in the US with new material as Rupert Murdoch (Random House, New York, 2004) chronicles his decade-long investigation into the world’s most powerful media mogul. Read a chapter-by-chapter summary here. Chenoweth’s book Packer’s Lunch (Random House, Sydney, 2006), reviewed here, also has substantial research on Sydney’s corporate dealmakers in the 1990s and their Swiss bank accounts.
The New York Times reports that the US Senate Permament Subcommittee on Investigations named Australian property maven and philanthropist Frank Lowy in a 114-page Staff Report on how the investment bank UBS created offshore tax havens in Liechtenstein. The report is part of a Permanent Subcommittee investigation on Tax Haven Banks and US Tax Compliance which held a hearing on 17th July 2008.
The Permanent Subcommittee’s press release claims that Lowy used Liechtenstein’s LGT Bank to ‘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.’ NYT reveals the foundation was Laperla based in Liechtenstein and used to funnel up to $US100 million.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports Lowy is cooperating with an Australian Taxation Office audit. Lowy’s son Peter is rescheduled to appear at a Permanent Subcommittee hearing on 25th July.
The Australian Financial Review‘s forensic journalist Neil Chenoweth investigated Australian entrepreneurs with Swiss offshore tax havens in Packer’s Lunch (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2007). For a broad international context also see my 2006 essay on anti-money laundering initiatives.