Aspen, Houston resident charged in $2 billion tax fraud case
At the center of allegations of a $2 billion tax fraud scheme, the highest amount the federal government has accused against an American, is a businessman who lives in Houston and Aspen.
Robert T. Brockman was hit with a 39-count indictment returned by a San Francisco grand jury Oct. 1 and made his first court appearance Oct. 15, according to public documents and published reports.
“Defendant ROBERT T. BROCKMAN was a United States citizen residing in Houston, Texas and Pitkin County, Colorado,” said the indictment.
By a Zoom call made from Houston during his initial court appearance, Brockman pleaded not guilty to federal charges that include money laundering, tax evasion and other counts related to allegations he used offshore entities and accounts to hide capital gains. He is out of custody on $1 million bond.
“As alleged, Mr. Brockman is responsible for carrying out an approximately $2 billion tax evasion scheme,” said Jim Lee, chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, in a statement. “IRS Criminal Investigation aggressively pursues tax cheats domestically and abroad. No scheme is too complex or sophisticated for our investigators. Those hiding income or assets offshore are encouraged to come forward and voluntarily disclose their holdings.”
Brockman, 79, is the chief executive officer of Reynolds & Reynolds Co., an Ohio-based seller of business software to auto dealerships. The company issued a statement last week saying it committed no wrongdoing.
Brockman’s attorney also made a statement.
“Mr. Brockman has pled not guilty, and we look forward to defending him against these charges,” said his attorney, Kathryn Keneally, in an email to The Associated Press.
The indictment alleges that from 1991 to 2019, Brockman hid income he made through his investments in private equity funds in offshore entities in Bermuda and Nevis.
Brockman also allegedly used bank accounts in Bermuda and Switzerland to conceal untaxed capital gains. Feds also said he fraudulently acquired $67.8 million in debt securities from Reynolds & Reynolds.
“As CEO, Brockman was contractually restricted from purchasing any of the software company’s debt securities without prior notice, full disclosure and amending the associated credit agreements,” said a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California.
The indictment refers to Brockman’s allegedly using $15 million from a Bermuda account to buy what’s called the “Frying Pan Canyon Ranch” in Pitkin County in December 2010, and another $15 million in the British Virgin Islands for the “Mountain Queen” residence in May 2005.
Brockman’s name only surfaces in the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office’s database as the lender to a Texas limited partnership that paid $3.1 million for an Aspen condo on Hyman Avenue in May 2004.
He reportedly has kept a low profile, according to published reports, but a major donation he made to a liberal arts college in Kentucky, only to later withdraw the commitment, drew national attention.
“Brockman fancies himself an anti-Warren Buffett in terms of flying under the radar, according to a person close to the billionaire,” BuzzFeed News reported in an October 2013 article about Brockman reneging on a $250 million gift to Centre College. “He dines out and travels frequently, with a private jet and a home in Aspen, Colorado, and doesn’t want people to know who he is or the extent of his fortune, the person said.”
Nearly three years after Aspen City Council cleared the founder of Jazz Aspen Snowmass to launch a jazz performance and education center downtown, Jim Horowitz said he expects the project will get rolling before the year is over.
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