God, Hope & Helping Others
The wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had a blind trust invested in the Goldman Sachs' sex trafficking fund, it emerged today.
According to an August 2011 financial disclosure report by the Romneys, Ann Romney's blind trust had an investment valued between $15,001 and $50,000 in Goldman's GS Capital Partners III.
Reuters reported that while there is no suggestion the Romneys knew about the investment, the disclosure highlights the difficulty for politicians and their families when they invest in blind trusts that are supposed to protect them from conflicts of interest and ethical questions.
Controverisal: The Goldman Sachs sex trafficking scandal has now been linked to the Ann Romney, the wife of presidential candidate Mitt
Goldman said on Sunday that GS Capital Partners III signed a deal last Friday to sell its 16 percent stake in Village Voice Media, which owns the website Backpage.com, back to management.
Critics argue that Backpage.com facilitates the trafficking of underage prostitutes and sex slaves, although others question that.
Andrea Saul, a spokesman for Romney, stressed that the funds were managed on a blind basis, 'so the trustee, not the Romneys, make their investment decisions.
'Furthermore, the trustee invests in funds, but, as a passive investor, has no control over the funds' investments.'
Goldman's divestiture is the latest development in a growing controversy over online adult advertising that has pitted celebrities, law enforcement officials, members of Congress and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof against Village Voice Media.
The private media company has the largest share of revenue in the United States from online advertising of adult services.
It has responded aggressively, challenging critics' data with editorial investigations and claiming that it goes to far greater lengths than competitors in cooperating with law enforcement and monitoring its ads for illegal activity.
The original size and timing of the blind-trust investment were not disclosed, though in 2007 the Ann Romney trust reported during Mitt Romney's previous failed attempt to get nominated as Republican presidential candidate that its investment in the Goldman fund was then worth between $100,001 and $250,000.
Headquarters: Goldman Sachs, which owns GS Capital Partners III, has signed a deal to sell its 16 per cent stake in Village Voice Media, which owns the website, called Backpage.com
In Ann Romney's 2010 tax return, which was made publicly available in January, the trust's investment in the Goldman fund was reported as showing a $28,226 loss.
Goldman could not be immediately reached for comment on questions about the Ann Romney trust investment.
GS Capital Partners III invested $30 million in the Village Voice in 2000. This was a fraction of fund's capital, which totaled $2.78 billion.
Goldman Sachs said the fund lost the vast majority of its investment when it sold its Village Voice stake last week.
The company – whose boss once claimed it was ‘doing God’s work’ – faced huge embarassment after it was linked to prostitution and sex trafficking of underage girls.
The revelation plunged the U.S. investment bank into fresh embarrassment over its business ethics weeks after a former executive claimed bosses there called clients ‘muppets’.
It has emerged that a private equity fund run by the bank had taken a major stake in a secretive company called Village Voice Media.
It owns a classified advertising website – Backpage.com – that is accused of being the biggest forum for illegal sex trafficking of underage girls in America.
GS Capital Partners III said it had agreed to sell its 16 per cent stake in the media company, admitting it had lost much of its investment in the process. Goldman Sachs insisted it had grown ‘uncomfortable with the direction of the company’ and its inability to influence its direction.
However New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who exposed the connection, said the bank had been ‘mortified’ when he first inquired about its stake last week and ‘began working frantically to unload its shares’.
Backpage.com is estimated to have a nearly 80 per cent share of online prostitution advertising in the U.S., worth some £2.5million a month.