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Wall Street’s Top Cop Can’t Shake Money Ties to Mysterious Firm

Courtesy of Pam Martens

SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton

SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton

When Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s pick to head Wall Street’s top cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission, was preparing for his Senate confirmation in March of 2017, the watchdog nonprofit, Public Citizen, requested in a formal letter that the Senate Banking Committee investigate Clayton’s family ties to a mysterious company called WMB Holdings.

On the day of the confirmation hearing, March 23, 2017, David Dayen penned this breathtaking assessment at The Nation:

“Clayton’s family gets millions of dollars in annual dividends from a private company named WMB Holdings, some of which Clayton plans to retain even if confirmed. This company and its affiliated partners (Delaware Trust Co and CSC) are conduits for creating shell corporations and other sketchy vehicles used in tax evasion and money laundering. Public Citizen found apparent links between these companies and Mossack Fonseca, the notorious Panamanian law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal.”

Yesterday, Susan Antilla and Gary Rivlin, both Reporting Fellows with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, filed a powerful look at Clayton’s conflicts and tenure at the SEC since his confirmation. That mysterious WMB Holdings came up again. Antilla and Rivlin wrote at The Intercept that the Clayton family’s stake in WMB Holdings, “held by his wife and children through a series of family trusts” is generating “more than $4 million in dividends per year.”

Pause for a moment and think about that: what is the market value of an asset that generates $4 million in dividends annually. As a gauge, it would take $200 million in a stock that pays a 2 percent dividend to generate $4 million in annual cash flow. In other words, this is clearly a massive part of the family’s net worth, if not the overwhelming part. And yet, the Senate Banking committee was not curious enough to drill down to find out what this company is all about, despite a detailed request from Public Citizen, which even posed the questions that should be asked.

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