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Romney portfolio has a link to Sudan

The GOP candidate's trustee has recently sold other potentially controversial holdings.

August 14, 2007|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney divested from companies doing business in Iran, but he still holds stock in an oil company that does business in Sudan -- where the government is accused of sponsoring genocide -- his financial disclosure report filed Monday shows.

Romney, the wealthiest presidential contender, is worth $190 million to $250 million, with investments spread among stocks, treasuries and high-end funds. R. Bradford Malt, Romney's attorney, acts as sole trustee of what until Monday was a blind trust, and makes investment decisions.

Romney trails in national polls but is doing well in the polls in the early voting states.

His wealth is key to his candidacy. As he did when he successfully ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002, he is dipping into his accounts. He has lent his presidential campaign more than $9 million.

Romney first filed a financial disclosure when he unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 1994. The Boston Herald then reported that he had assets of $16 million to $25 million.

In a telephone news conference, Malt said Monday that he became more attentive to Romney's holdings once Romney began running for president. The financial disclosure, which covers 2006 and the first half of 2007, shows that Malt sold stock in dozens of companies in recent months.

For example, after Romney publicly called for divestment from companies doing business in Iran, Malt sold stock in some such companies, such as the Italian oil company Eni S.P.A.

According to the report, Romney holds stock in China Petroleum and Chemical (also known as SinoPec), an oil supply company that has dealings in Sudan, according to an organization dedicated to ending the genocide in the African nation's Darfur region.

President Bush has denounced the killings of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur and declared that genocide is being committed. California and early-voting Iowa are among the states where officials have urged divestment.

Romney's stock in the company is valued at $50,000 to $100,000, and generated income of no more than $15,000 -- a tiny fraction of his portfolio. (The federal reports give ranges rather than specific values of holdings.)

The Washington-based Genocide Intervention Network has said the Chinese company has major operations in Sudan and is one of the companies from which people should divest if they are concerned about genocide in Darfur.

"Citizens have to do everything to take a stand against this genocide, and presidential candidates have to take a leading role," said Adam Sterling of the Genocide Intervention Network.

Company representatives could not be reached for comment.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, declining to discuss any single investment, said that all decisions were made by Malt and that Romney had no influence over how his investments were handled.

"Gov. Romney never gave the trustee instructions," Madden said.

The report shows that Romney has numerous offshore holdings. In the news conference, Malt said none of the foreign investments were intended to "reduce taxes or defer taxes."

Domestically, Malt sold stock in Altria Group, whose subsidiary, Philip Morris U.S.A., is the world's largest cigarette manufacturer. Romney still has some holdings in the company through at least one of his many investment funds.

The trustee also sold off stock in half a dozen casino companies, earning Romney $155,000 to $1.18 million.

His biggest single holding appears to have been MGM Mirage, owners of a major casino in Las Vegas. He realized a gain between $100,000 and $1 million. Romney's past gambling stock holdings could pose a problem as he seeks campaign support among conservatives, said the Rev. Tom Grey of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

"The fact that he owned the stock raises some questions," Grey said.

Romney placed his holdings in a blind trust when he became Massachusetts' governor in 2003.

Now that he is running for president, the federal government requires a listing of his holdings, forcing him to unveil his investments.

Romney failed to meet the May 15 deadline for filing the financial disclosure document and obtained two 45-day extensions. His worth includes holdings for himself and his wife, Ann, as well as individual retirement accounts.

Romney's aides would not say whether he would release his tax returns, a step that, while not required by law, has become traditional among candidates for high office.

Nor would they say how much he paid in taxes last year or how much he donated to charity.

Romney disclosed that he had one checking account that held $5 million to $25 million, and a second money market account with $1 million to $5 million.

He holds stock in such U.S. firms as Citigroup, Cisco Systems, Google, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney.

He also has extensive holdings in foreign firms, including Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Yokohama and Canadian Natural Resources.

Romney made the bulk of his millions while working as head of Bain Capital, a major private equity firm.

He quit Bain in 1999 to head the Salt Lake City Olympics Committee, but he and his wife continue to reap significant income from it.

According to the report, Ann Romney received $7 million to $15.5 million in income from various Bain accounts. The value of her Bain holdings is at least $9 million and could exceed $12 million.

dan.morain@latimes.com

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