Sunday, May 28, 2023

Draining the Tax Swamp

By on August 3, 2022

When Puerto Rico’s Treasury secretary, Francisco Parés, and Justice secretary, Domingo Emanuelli, announced they had landed several of the biggest fish in the tax fraud swamp, the tandem had reason to feel they were changing a culture of impunity among some of the rich and infamous who saw tax evasion as an afterthought to be negotiated after being caught.

In a wide-ranging interview with Caribbean Business, los justicieros made clear that cooperation between the two departments was key in making certain that evaders who had legal loopholes to diminish sentences in the past now had ironclad cases against them because Justice and Hacienda task forces were working in lockstep against fraud.

Truth be told, many white collar criminals justify their acts of malfeasance because they swim in murky waters. For instance, Caribbean Business conducted a panel discussion with former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow in 2018, where the complicit executive was asked whether he considered himself a misleading person. It just so happens that Fastow pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in 2004 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping to orchestrate a corporate strategy to defraud Enron’s shareholders, causing more than $40 billion in market losses in the process.

As he responded in the affirmative— saying, “Well, what I will say is that I was guilty of those crimes” in a confessional before 100 people—Fastow’s body language was downright contrite, tears often welling up as he recalled those days of judgment.

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