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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has released a devastating study of offshore tax havens, indicating that as much as $32 trillion -- the size of the U.S. and Japanese economies combined -- may be stashed in secrecy and tax havens around the world. Among the few names that have been released thus far is that of one-time corporate raider Paul Bilzerian. In 1989, he was convicted of of conspiracy, making false statements, and securities and law violations. He was sentenced to four years in prison and spent a little more than a year there. He filed for bankruptcy twice, but went to prison a second time in the early 2000s for failure to disclose his assets to the bankruptcy court. The Securities and Exchange Commission had contended that Bilzerian transferred assets to trusts and shell corporations -- key steps in many offshore stashing strategies.

As I reported in my Union-Tribune column, in 1987 Chargers owner Alex Spanos was introduced to Bilzerian. The next year, Spanos joined a Bilzerian raid on Singer Co. Along with people such as the late Edward DeBartolo Sr., the racetrack czar, and his son Edward DeBartolo Jr., the senior Spanos helped finance the takeover. "I love the acquisition business," Spanos told me in 1988. "Paul [Bilzerian] represents me totally." At the time, the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the deal; Spanos said the investigation did not deter him. The senior DeBartolo has often been linked to organized crime. The book "Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football" devotes seven pages to the subject. But Spanos told me, "He is a reputable person, a fine gentleman." Later, the SEC leveled charges against Bilzerian and the elder DeBartolo, who settled without admitting or denying the charges. Spanos was not charged, although at one point there were only two people left on the Singer board, and he was one of them.

Later, Edward "Eddie" DeBartolo Jr., then owner of the San Francisco 49ers, pleaded guilty to not reporting a $400,000 bribe he paid to a former governor of Louisiana to get a riverboat gambling license. As a result, the junior DeBartolo had to forfeit ownership of the team to another member of the DeBartolo family, his sister.

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