New York Attorney General Announces America’s Cup Indictments
Published on April 1st, 2015
New York, NY (April 1, 2015) – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of individuals charged with conspiring to abuse the unique 19th century America’s Cup Charitable Trust to shelter profits to the offshore tax havens in Bermuda, Guernsey, and The Isle of Man.
Beginning in January 2013, law enforcement agents from the New York Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau (AGCB) conducted a joint investigation, code-named “F’ed Up Cup,” that included embedded personnel and hundreds of hours of wiretaps that identified this alleged multi edition, multinational cover-up.
The indictment charges over 30 with a combined 1851 counts including 62 counts related to tax evasion and 72 counts related to gaming and racketeering. One defendant – who calls himself “God” – is charged with Operating as a Major Racketeer, the only charge in the state that carries as possible life sentence.
“For the first time in history, we have shattered an international corruption ring that includes industry Titans, high-level politicians, and world champion athletes,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The tragic reality is that we are in the midst of a worldwide economic collapse – and the conventional wisdom that the America’s Cup is the realm of the wealthy and influential is clearly wrong.”
Schneiderman continued, “Abuse of the Deed by this elite ring has affected every layer of society in port cities all over the world. Using every tool and resources at my office’s disposal, we will continue our efforts to root out this type of abuse in every New York State entity from small and innocuous charities to Wall Street investment banks and sporting organizations.”
“With today’s ruling, we are sending a strong message that this type of crime will not be tolerated in New York State,” said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. “These individuals are accused of abusing the charitable status of a for profit operation, tax evasion, acting for benefit, abuse of public office, and stealing public assets for private gain. I commend the members of the New York State Attorney General’s Office and our partners in the Charities Bureau for the inter-agency cooperation and coordination it takes to unwind such abuse disguised by volumes of ancient and circuitous documentation.”
As outlined in the indictment unsealed today by the New York County Court, evidence gathered by state investigators showed that Lawrence Ellison– a.k.a. “God” – was the alleged kingpin behind the charity based in New York State.
Those charged in the indictment are:
Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie
Sir Russell Coutts
The charges against the defendants are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. However, given prior review by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the International Sailing Federation, comfortable satisfaction is the standard of proof used for a majority of the counts.
In an unprecedented move, A.G. Schneiderman’s office and the New York State Supreme Court moved to disband the existing America’s Cup Trust, appoint an independent governing board to restructure the America’s Cup Trust under the Uniform Trust Code (UTC), and to invalidate the 34th America’s Cup. Interim board members were selected for their persistent outspoken call for dismantling the organization that has had a stranglehold over the America’s Cup Deed of Trust and for their continued efforts to promote fair competition and improvements to the sport.
Persons named to the interim board include:
Dean Barker, Mitchell Booth, Ernesto Bertarelli, William Carl Buchan, Linda Corrado, Richard duMoulin, Lynn Fitzpatrick, Stan Honey, Chuck Hawley, Peter Holmberg, Dyer Jones, Olivier de Kersauson, Charles Kithcart, John Kostecki, Hasso Plattner, Joseph Spooner, Matthew Mitchell, Paul Henderson, Riccardo Simoneschi, Leah Simpson.
AG Schneiderman’s move to invalidate the 34th America’s Cup comes in light of review by the AG’s office and the U.S. Justice Department of sealed documents from the investigations of the death of Andrew “Bart” Simpson in 2013 and in the cheating scandal preceding the 34th America’s Cup in which Oracle Team USA was found guilty of cheating. Also contributing to the investigation were the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the New York State Supreme, both have seen an inordinate number of cases emanating from the 34th America’s Cup that were not handled judiciously by the International Sailing Federation, the world governing body of sailing.
The investigation that led to today’s indictment was conducted by NY Attorney General Charities Bureau Investigators Penny Knowmore, Christopher Fox, and Chase Catcher, Senior Investigators Mia Culpa and Angelo Riddle.
The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Sennett and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Cristina A. Villani. Their efforts are being complemented by outside counsel Elliott Spitzer, Larry Klayman, John Tommy Rosas, and Bruce Paulsen with specialties in tax, financial, trust, and admiralty law, including piracy.
U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. through the US Department of Justice and its Access to Justice and the Antitrust divisions is following the case. “This case will be among the top priorities as I pass the reigns of this office on to my successor. We are also working closely with California Attorney General Kamala Harris and will be making further indictments, which will include high-level politicians, shortly.”