Mitt Romney, his son Tagg, and Romney’s chief fundraiser, Spencer Zwick, have extensive financial and political ties to three men who allegedly participated in an $8.5 billion Ponzi scheme. A few months after the Ponzi scheme collapsed, a firm financed by Mitt Romney and run by his son and chief fundraiser partnered with the three men and created a new “wealth management business” as a subsidiary.
In an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Tagg Romney confirmed their business relationship, but falsely claimed that the men were cleared of any wrongdoing associated with the Ponzi scheme. Tagg Romney told ThinkProgress that his three partners collected about $15,000 from their involvement in the Ponzi scheme. Court documents obtained by ThinkProgress show that the legal proceedings are ongoing and the men made over $1.6 million selling fraudulent CDs to investors.
The Ponzi Scheme
In 2009, prosecutors announced charges against the Stanford Financial Group, which managed a portfolio of $8.5 billion, for running a “massive, ongoing fraud” against its investors. The Ponzi scheme bust was one of the largest in recent history, second only to Bernie Madoff, who perpetrated a fraud estimated to be around $17 billion. The Stanford Ponzi scheme wiped out the savings of thousands, including many Americanretirees across the country. In Texas, 1290 people lost their retirement savings because of the Stanford Ponzi scheme; in Louisiana, several hundred reportedlysuffered the same fate.
The Romney Business Connection
Solamere Capital, the investment company founded by Tagg Romney with seed money from his father, Mitt Romney and other investors.
Launched in 2008 by Romney’s son Tagg and a few others, including Mitt Romney’s chief fundraiser Spencer Zwick, Solamere Capital is a “fund of funds,” meaning that it primarily invests in other investment companies, like private equity groups.
Mitt Romney himself made a $10 million initial seed investment in Solamere Capital and his personal financial disclosure forms reveal that he has received between $100,000 and $1 million in returns from his stake in Solamere. Romney has come under fire forrefusing to release his tax returns, which would likely reveal additional details about his financial relationship with Solamere Capital.
After news of the Ponzi scheme precipitated the collapse of Stanford in 2009, Taggpartnered with several of Stanford’s North Carolina executives to start a firm called Solamere Advisors. At least three prominent brokers who had worked for Stanford — Tim Bambauer, Deems May, and Brandon Phillips — joined Tagg to help run Solamere Advisors, a wealth management business located in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We are excited to be associated with such a highly capable group of financial advisors with a proven track record of meeting the needs of their clients throughout the Southeast,” said Tagg in a press release announcing Solamere Advisors, which borrows its the name from its parent company, Solamere Capital.
The Romney Campaign Connection
The Romney campaign and the Romney family investment company are deeply entwined. A recent Boston Globe investigation found that top donors to the Romney campaign have invested into Tagg’s firm, and that Romney’s star campaign fundraiser, Spencer Zwick, doubles as a managing partner for Solamere Capital. The Romney campaign has paid Zwick’s firm, SJZ LLC, over $2 million in fees this year alone. Mitt Romney’s brother Scott Romney is listed as a senior advisor to Solamere Capital.