Metro-East News

Pritzker has off-shore company involved in Chicago land deal, report says

While J.B. Pritzker has no personal investments off-shore, there are trusts that were set up for his benefit off-shore generations ago, the Democrat's gubernatorial campaign said.

J.B. Pritzker has held money in several offshore shell companies that were created between 2008 and 2011, including one created to help with a land deal along the Chicago River to launch duck boat tours, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The trusts invest money, and whenever money has been dispersed it has gone to charity, the campaign said.

The Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday shell companies are owned by Pritzker and his brother and business partner, Anthony Pritzker.

The Tribune reported one of Pritzker’s offshore, Moreau Capital Holdings Ltd., is part of a venture that plans to buy city-owned land along the Chicago River to launch duck boat tours. Pritzker is the sole owner of Moreau Capital Holdings, which was created in Nassau, Bahamas, in January 2011, according to records.

Pritzker is worth about $3.5 billion, and has pumped more than $63 million of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign.

Keeping money offshore allows wealthy people and corporations to use the banking systems of low-tax countries, often island nations in the Caribbean, to shield their assets from taxing authorities in their home countries, the Tribune reported. Taxpayers in the U.S. are still responsible for paying taxes on any income they bring into the country from offshore assets.

The Tribune reported that Pritzker's campaign said one of the companies, M Cay Bahamas Ltd., was created to hold the family’s real estate in the Bahamas in compliance with that country’s law.

“Throughout this campaign, JB has been transparent about his finances and today's article only confirms what he has always said. First, generations ago there were trusts set up offshore by J.B.’s family and J.B. does not manage or oversee them," said Pritzker Communications Director Galia Slayen. "Second, as the Tribune details, any distributions made from those trusts are directed to charity and J.B. has never received a personal disbursement from any trust located offshore. Finally, J.B.’s statement of economic interest lists assets held not only by J.B. personally, but also trusts and the Pritzker Family Foundation. With six days to go until the primary election, J.B. is energized by the support he’s received across the state and ready to beat Bruce Rauner in November.”

Political rivals on Wednesday were quick to pounce on the Tribune revelations.

"J.B. Pritzker thinks the rules don’t apply to him because he is a billionaire," said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy. "He rigs the property tax system for his own benefit. He tries to engage in pay to play politics with corrupt former Gov. Rod Blagojevich while insulting African-American leaders. And now, we find out he lied to the voters about moving his billions offshore to dodge taxes. He has proven himself to be a serial tax cheat."

State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, who is also running for governor, said Pritzker should be disqualified from serving as governor.

"After years of scamming the system out of much needed revenue and repeatedly lying to the voters of Illinois, it’s clear now why J.B. Pritzker refused to release his full tax returns," Biss said. "This greedy and repeated manipulation shows that JB believes he’s accountable to no one, including the voters of Illinois. These repeated lies means he lacks the credibility to govern."

Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign also released a statement.

"J.B. Pritzker wants to raise taxes on hardworking Illinois families but will dodge taxes himself," Rauner said. "The Chicago Tribune's report shows that JB Pritzker cannot be trusted. He will game the system for his own benefit and leave hardworking Illinoisans footing the bill."

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