“I was profiled before, you probably read in the FT and the Journal, both right behind us, smart journalism supports the cause. Exciting what we’re going to do here, brave new world, a chance for all of us to make money together, and that’s exactly what I tell the Hungarians: I want them to get rich, too, because I know I can get rich happier and faster if we get rich together. All in the same boat. Western-style office buildings, I have a head start on approvals, option for office building convention center, minister a close friend of mine, first-class fellow, I admire his poetry, published poet you know, these new artistic governments, so funny, they won’t last here or in Prague, of course, it’s nice after the Commies, but eventually they’ll get back to having businessmen and lawyers in charge and that’s how things get done, you can’t really have a cabinet full of sculptors, more of a tourist attraction for now. John, I tell you, between you and me, just us right here right now, all I can say is best time for a man of honor and faith to step up, never will there be an opportunity like this, not just for the money men but for this country, will they throw off their shackles, I want to see money make men free, John, I’m the luckiest man alive to be here now, we’re planning an opening fund $37 million, I want them to get rich right alongside me.”
–“Harvey” in the novel Prague by Arthur Phillips, p. 118-119
Like the hyperactive “Harvey” character in Arthur Phillips’ novel about a group of American ex-patriots living in Budapest (the book’s title is meant to be ironic), Marc Holtzman was an enthusiastic business promoter in post-Communist era Central Europe. Henry Copeland in a 2002 blog posting entitled “The Truth About Prague,” claims that “Harvey” was in fact modeled on Holtzman. Copeland had interviewed Holtzman in 1993 for The New Republic. In his blog posting, he compares part of the above excerpt with something Holtzman actually told him in the interview: “You have one-tenth of the population of the world that have nothing and need everything. This is probably one of the most impressionable and pivotal times in the history of the world. To be here and to be part of it, not only to be able to experience it, but to have the added benefit of potentially being able to profit from it too, is really close to the biggest thrill I think I can imagine.”
Holtzman grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, the son of a rich entrepreneur. In 1976, at the age of 16, he became enthralled with Ronald Reagan and began to write the charismatic presidential candidate incessantly. His persistence eventually earned him the position of executive director of Reagan’s Pennsylvania campaign in 1980—the youngest state-wide campaign director ever! Reagan’s assistant, Helene Von Damm, has said that her boss once proclaimed “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if some day he [Holtzman] becomes the first Jewish president.”
Before the election, Holtzman roomed in Washington for awhile with some of Reagan’s campaign team, including CIA Director Bill Casey. Reagan insisted that young Holtzman finish college, but once he graduated from Lehigh, the precocious go-getter returned to Washington and became the director of Citizens for America, a conservative foundation which promoted Reagan’s pet projects: the “Star Wars” missile-defense program, and the Nicaraguan anti-Communist rebels known as the “contras” (see #38 above).
After his stint at CFA, Holtzman returned to Pennsylvania where he ran for Congress. Despite the array of Reagan Administration dignitaries who came out to support him, Holtzman lost this race. If elected, he would have been the youngest person to serve in Congress at that time.
Then in 1991, he realized that the Iron Curtain was about to come crashing down, so he moved to Hungary to take advantage of the business opportunities which were opening up. “In 1992, Holtzman joined an investment company, EurAmerica, that was funded with federal dollars and charged with helping to jump-start private enterprise in post-Communist Hungary.” But the young visionary got into trouble when he paid himself an annual salary of $300, 000—$150,000 more than was proscribed by the Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund. “Congressman David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who chaired the House subcommittee that oversaw the funds, was incensed by the salaries Holtzman and others at EurAmerica received.” An audit of the company revealed that its books were in “disarray.” After the investigation, Holtzman and his partners slashed their salaries to $150,000, bought out the company, and repaid the taxpayer money that had been used to fund it.
In the ensuing years, Holtzman has expanded on his reputation as “the rolodex kid,” moving from one prestigious investment job to another while nurturing useful contacts with numerous world leaders. Aside from Eastern Europe, he has lived in Hong Kong and New Zeeland. In 2006, after serving as president of Denver University, he took time out to run an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Colorado. He is currently Chairman of Kazkommertsbank in Kazakhstan.
Fribourg co. : EAC Capital Corp SARL, Promotion du secteur privé de la république de Hongrie etc., Cap 0,04. (30.6.92, 6.5.94) Grand Rue 56. Chez Etude Lenz & Staehlin
“Most damning was Mr. Justice Nicholls about DJM’s overseas subsidiaries, and the two separate bites taken out of Elton and Bernie’s foreign royalties before they reached London. In the Judge’s view, it was not right for subsidiaries with neither offices nor staff to deduct 35 per cent on top of 15 per cent already taken by the outside administrator. He refused to accept Stephen James’s assertion that even subsidiaries without offices incurred expenses from such things as promotion, advertising and business travel.”
—Elton John by Philip Norman, p. 427
40. James, Dick (1921 – 1986)
The self-proclaimed « luckiest man in the history of the music business » who, at the suggestion of music producer George Martin, set up the Beatles’ music publishing house Northern Songs Ltd. early in 1963. James (born Richard Leon Vapnick) made a tidy fortune from an arrangement that gave him and his business partner, Emanuel Silver, 55% of the Beatles UK royalties and 75% of their foreign (sub-publishing) royalties (see # 12 for a similar arrangement). At the time, the deal that James had given the still unknown Beatles was considered very generous by music industry standards. (See: Shout by Philip Norman, pp. 171& 368)
After the death of the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, in 1967, James had constantly been pestered by British TV impresario Sir Lew Grade to sell him Northern songs. In March of 1969, while John and Paul were on their respective honeymoons, James relented and unexpectedly sold out to Grade. The Beatles, who had a minority stake in the company, were furious that James had not even bothered to warn them of the sale. James has always maintained that he caved in to Grade’s demands because the Beatles were becoming increasingly unstable in their social lives, especially as evidenced, according to the conservative James, in John’s outrageous antics.
Dick James has the Beatles sign a contract after recording « She Loves You » in Studio 2 at Abbey Road in 1963.
James also had the good luck of signing Reg Dwight (who later took the name Elton John) to a similar contract. In 1986, an English court handed down a landmark decision on such publishing practices ruling that Dick James Music’s (DJM’s) way of doing business with Elton John and his partner, songwriter Bernie Taupin, was improper and illegal.
During the trial, it was suggested that James’ Swiss company “had merely served as a front for him personally to siphon Elton and Bernie’s royalties into a Swiss bank account.” (See: Elton John by Philip Norman, p. 424) James died of a heart attack several months after losing the trial.
Dick James Music SA was domiciled at the same fiduciary that was run by the chairwoman of the Iran-contra master company “Lake Resources.” (See: # 38 above)
Fribourg co. : Dick James Music SA, acquérir et céder des droits d’auteur et d’éditeurs d’œuvres artistiques et musicales, Cap 0,05. (25.1.71, 5.8.81) Rue de l’industrie 16. Chez Audifi SA
“The term “money laundering” is quite widely used. However, apparently there exists the notion of “image laundering” as well. It was not for nothing that in your interviews in the West you mentioned Rockefeller as an example for imitation. However, Rockefeller “got laundered” only in the third generation—it was only his grandson that became “clean.” There were 100 years separating him from his grandfather. And it seems as though you would like to race through these 100 years during your lifetime.”
“I sure would. This is an objective requirement in business—the one who is faster will win. You are not surprised by the fact that the way from a horse to a railroad took thousands of years, whereas from a railroad to a spaceship—only one hundred years. The same applies to the Rockefeller issue. I was in Harvard and heard the director of their business school speak. He said that Khodorkovsky was Rockefeller, Rockefeller’s son and Rockefeller’s grandson in one person. Rockefeller had it much harder. Back then there were no ready rules. It took a hundred years to create business ethics. It took them three generations. It is easier for us.
—Interview of Khodorkovsky in the Russian online newspaper Kommersant
41. Khodorkovsky, Mikhail (1963- )
Russian “oligarch” who after a conventional life as a young Communist of humble family background, became a fabulously successful entrepreneur during Gorbachev’s “Perestroika” in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s, Khodorkovsky was an influential economic advisor to Boris Yeltsin’s government. By January 2004, he was ranked by Forbes as Russia’s richest man with a fortune of $16 billion. However, the previous October, after Khodorkovsky challenged newly-elected Vladimir Putin’s authority, he was taken off his private jet at a Siberian airport and imprisoned for fraud and tax evasion. He ended up serving a total of 10 years in prison. Pardoned by Russian president Putin in 2013, he now lives with his family in Zurich, Switzerland.
While he was a chemistry student at Moscow’s Mendeleev Institute of Chemistry and Engineering, Khodorkovsky became the deputy director of the university’s chapter of the Communist Youth League (Komsomol). Using various Komsomol connections, he ventured into diverse business activities, including the importing of much-in-demand personal computers. In 1987, he and some friends set up a Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity of the Youth, which later evolved into Menatep, one of Russia’s first private banks.
By 1991, after the defeat of the Communist coup against Gorbachov’s Perestroika reforms, Khodorkovsky had become a confirmed capitalist. He and Leonid Nevzlin, one of his business partners, proclaimed in their capitalist manifesto The Man with the Ruble:
“It is time to stop living according to Lenin!, Our guiding light is Profit, acquired in a strictly legal way. Our Lord is His Majesty, Money, for it is only He who can lead us to wealth as the norm in life.” –quoted in the following article:
During the Yeltzin years (1991-1999), Khordokovsky had the enormous good luck of being able to take advantage of two Russian privatization programs: The “voucher” program (1992-1994), and the so-called “loans-for-shares” program (1995-1996). By buying up at knock-down prices the vouchers that the Russian people had been issued in order to give them a stake in their country’s businesses, Khordokovsky was able to acquire a controlling interest in over 30 companies. In the “loans-for-shares” program, which the government established in order to bail out Yeltzin’s faltering economy before the 1996 presidential elections, Khodorkovsky was able to acquire Yukos, Russia’s second largest oil company (worth $9 billion) for a paltry $350 million. Most believe the auction was rigged. These two privatization programs, which are credited with creating the greedy “oligarch” class, are generally viewed by Russians as an outrageous rip-off of their national treasure.
When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, he gave an ultimatum to the oligarchs which essentially boiled down to “stay out of politics, or I will ruin you!” Khodorkovsky, who was the richest oligarch, did not heed this warning. Pumped up by his new-found zeal to reform Russian business, and to make it more transparent following the Western model, Khordokovsky insinuated that Putin’s government was corrupt. Feeling Putin’s wrath, other oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky left the country, but Khodorkovsky stubbornly stayed on. Former Geneva-based Khodorkovsky advisor—and staunch Libertarian—Christian Michel believes that his former client had a desire to spend time in prison in order to purge his “robber baron” sins of the 1990’s. (see Cyril Tuschi’s film Khodorkovsky)
Khodorkovsky at his 2004 Moscow trial in “customary” cage
Khodorkovsky was soon considered by many as a political prisoner, and his cause was taken up by people around the world. Even Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel became a supporter. The Swiss government, which had been asked by Russia to provide documents on Swiss companies implicated in the fraud and money laundering charges against Khodorkovsky (including documents from Menatep SA in Fribourg) refused to cooperate—though the Swiss did freeze over $6 billion in Menatep’s Swiss accounts.
After his release from prison, Khodorkovsky joined his family in Zurich, and set up an office in its “old town” within a few blocks of where Lenin lived before returning to Russia in 1917 via the “Finland Station.” Khodorkovsky made a promise to Putin to stay out of politics, but he has relaunched his Open Russia foundation (originally founded in 2001) whose mission is to unite all pro-European Russians. His fortune, much of which was confiscated by Putin, has dwindled to $100 – 500 million. The soft-spoken tycoon has come a long way since his youth when he tacked up a poster of Lenin on his bedroom wall.
Fribourg co.: Menatep SA, Achat, exploitation, mise en valeur et locations
d’aeronefs ; conseil, assistance et prestation de services dans ces
domaines, Cap 0,81. (16.12.97)
Rue ST-Pierre 18. c/o Progressia Société Fiduciaire et de Gestion SA
Poster for a documentary film made in 2011 by German director Cyril Tuschi
“Only dishonest people won with this law.They pretend they have a model agency in Fribourg. They put out a fake head sheet, fake vouchers, and pretend the billings went through there, except there is not one telephone or one booker there.”
–Louise Despointes, model, complaining about Paris Planning Model Agency’s
Fribourg company Models SA—a similar tax arrangement to Elite’s in Fribourg.
Quoted in Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women by Michael Gross
John Casablancas (L) ; Alain Kittler (R)
42. Kittler, Alain (1944- )
Founded in Paris in 1972 by John Casablancas and Alain Kittler, two former school-mates from the elitist Swiss prep school “Le Rosey,” The Elite Model Agency would eventually employ many of the world’s supermodels. In 2005, Casablancas told The New York Times: “When I first came to New York 30 years ago – […] Actresses in Hollywood’s star system were famous, and models were just models. We started creating the myth behind the look.” Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, and Lauren Bush, George W. Bush’s niece, all worked for Elite. Evangelista, the former wife of Gérald Marie—who was a director one of Elite’s Fribourg companies—once famously said: “We don’t get up for less than $10,000.”
In 1999, Elite part-owner Gérald Marie was embroiled in a scandal. In a BBC documentary, he was shown boasting about sleeping with underage models. Another Elite executive was caught making racist remarks, and a third man from another agency was filmed making a drug sale to a teenage model. Elite founder John Casablancas was also a notorious Lothario, renowned for seducing young models. So the documentary provoked much discussion about what was actually going on in the model business.
Then, in 2002, Elite and 12 other model agencies were at the center of a $50 million class action suit which alleged “rampant, decades-long price-fixing.” Eventually the models who claimed that due to this scheme they had been underpaid settled out of court, and a fund of $22 million was set up to reimburse them. After this, Elite was hit by a lawsuit in which an executive trainee, Victoria Gallegos, alleged that Elite forced her to work in a hostile environment—she was asthmatic and her co-workers would not stop smoking. A jury awarded her $5.2 million.
All of these lawsuits ended up exposing the shadowy offshore network of companies that Elite had been using to hide its money from tax authorities, and eventually from its own models. The hub of this elaborate scheme was Elite Model Management SA at Route des Arsenaux 15, 1700 Fribourg, Suisse.
Fribourg cos. :Elite Model Look SA, Détention, utilisation, exploitation et commerce de marques liées au groupe Elite, notamment l’octroi de licences ; organisations d’événements internationaux, de concours nationaux et internationaux de mannequins, ainsi que toute activité de partenariat dans le domaine publicitaire et du sponsoring notamment. Cap 0,1 (20.5.98) Rte des Arsenaux 15
Elite Model Management SA, Encaissement, services dans le domaine de la locat. de mannequins, etc., Cap 0,4. (1.5.87, 31.12.92) Rte des Arsenaux 15
Groupe Elite SA, Exploitation commerciale du nom « Elite » par la création et la vente de tous produits dérivéves ayant trait ou nom Elite (vétements, accessoires, vidéos, éditions, cosmétiques et droits) et l’organisation de défiliés de mannequins et événements de mode, Cap 0,1 (24.2.95) Rte des Asenaux 15
Inmod SA, Location de mannequins, etc. ; services, Cap 0,1.(8.7.87, 16.8.93) Rte des Arsenaux 15