No Italian Accounts?

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August 6, 2012 11:47 a.m.

I’m sort of surprised this story hasn’t generated more attention. Did Mitt Romney skip Italy on his foreign trip in part because of Bain’s rep for aggressive tax avoidance in that country?

This came out this morning from Bloomberg

Mitt Romney skipped Italy on his swing through Europe. That was probably prudent.

That’s because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day.

Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News.

In Italy, the deals have spurred at least three books, separate legal and regulatory probes and newspaper columns alleging investors made a fortune at the expense of Italian taxpayers. Boston-based Bain wasn’t a subject of the inquiries, which didn’t result in any charges.

The sale of the government’s directory business is “a dark chapter in the country’s privatization history, one that has hurt Italians deeply,” said Bernardo Bortolotti, an economics professor at Turin University who advised the Italian Treasury on asset sales from 2002 through 2005. “It was a mistake from the start, damaged by a lack of transparency and the use of offshore funds.”

On the tax avoidance and destructive business practices front this seems pretty germane. Especially on the use of offshore accounts.

Read the full piece here.

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