Billionaire businessman Robert Smith, who made headlines last year by promising to pay off school loans taken on by hundreds of Black students, has reached a deal with US authorities to stave off prosecution for tax fraud.
He will pay $140 million to tax authorities as part of the arrangement, the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday.
Smith, the Black CEO of the investment firm Vista Partners, is accused of hiding revenue from 2000 to 2015 to avoid paying millions in taxes.
He has admitted doing this with offshore accounts in Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis, in the Caribbean, the department said.
Smith, 57, who is worth more than $5 billion according to Forbes magazine, drew tears of joy last year when he promised the 400-member graduating class of historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta that he would pay off all of their student loans. This amounted to an estimated $40 million.
In America, such loans tend to average tens of thousands of dollars and are a huge burden that many young people take years and years to pay off.
Smith admitted creating offshore entities to avoid paying some taxes in the US.
He has now agreed to pay $56 million in back taxes and fines on undeclared earnings, and $82 million for failing to report his offshore accounts.
He is also giving up a $182 million tax credit for charitable donations he made.
Vista Partners specializes in financing software and other tech sector startups. Smith founded it in 2000.
‘So, so cruel’: Rights advocates sound alarm about immigration agenda Stephen Miller is crafting for Trump’s 2nd term
Immigrant rights advocates along with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his supporters responded with alarm to reporting this week that Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, is plotting how to "rev up Trump's restrictive immigration agenda" and is ready to "unleash executive orders deemed too extreme for a president seeking reelection" in the event of a Biden loss next week.
NBC News reported Friday that Miller, speaking as an adviser to the president's campaign, laid out four top priorities in a 30-minute call Thursday: "limiting asylum grants, punishing and outlawing 'sanctuary cities,' expanding the so-called travel ban with tougher screening for visa applicants, and slapping new limits on work visas." Implementing these policies would require a mix of legislation and executive action.
REVEALED: Far-right extremists are circulating plans to lock down Arizona streets if Trump is re-elected
On Saturday, The Arizona Republic reported that far-right paramilitary groups are circulating plans to lock down neighborhoods in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area in the event that President Donald Trump is re-elected, supposedly to police left-wing protesters.
"In Arizona, the head of the Prescott-area chapter of the Oath Keepers group, which recruits military and law enforcement officers, has warned residents to be prepared to protect their neighborhoods from feared extreme left-wing protesters who would be upset should President Donald Trump be re-elected," reported Richard Ruelas. "Part of that the pro-Trump group'splan involved closing streets and assigning monitors to control access, according to a planning document shared with The Republic."
America’s crimes against humanity aren’t on the ballot this year — but they should be
The 2020 presidential election is a life-and-death decision for thousands of people vulnerable to COVID-19, for a globe under the assault from the climate crisis, and for the future of American democracy. And yet for all the urgency, the political campaign still suffers under the weight and stench of bullshit.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Philosopher Harry Frankfurt warns in his bestselling pamphlet "On Bullshit" that "bullshit" is more injurious than the blatant lie. One reason among many is that bullshit blurs the line between reality and fiction, offering a manipulative incorporation of truth to strengthen its own capacity to persuade. Absolute falsity, in contrast, is obvious to anyone with minimal awareness of the facts. When the Trump administration recently declared that one of its grand achievements was "ending the pandemic," most people laughed in disbelief. This is a lie fit for consumption only from inhabitants of a collective similar to the Rev. Jim Jones' notorious People's Temple settlement in Guyana.