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Senator PROXMIRE. The committee will stand in recess until 10:30 tomorrow morning and reconvene to hear Mr. Rossides of the Treasury Department and other witnesses on these bills.
(Whereupon, at 12:00 p.m., the hearing was adjourned, to reconvene Tuesday, June 9, 1970, at 10:30 a.m.)
(Testimony of the Securities and Exchange Commission before the House Banking and Currency ('ommittee referred to earlier on p. 75 follows:
FEBRUARY 16, 1970. STAFF MEMORANDUM To: Wright Patman, Chairman. Subject: Investors Overseas Services (IOS) and its use of secret foreign fi
nancial facilities. Transmitted herewith is a report on IOS, including (1) its background, (2) its sources of revenue, (3) SEC-IOS litigation, and (+) its investment in companies in the United States.
The total net assets of the mutual funds managed by IOS were $1.8 billion at August 31, 1969, of which approximately $1.2 billion or about two-thirds were invested in equity securities of United States corporations. The consolidated net income of iOS has increased from about $1.7 million in 1964 to about $14.7 million in 1968.
Each IOS-managed mutual fund is subject to applicable governmental regulation in the country of its organization. The funds are apparently purposely organized in countries with a minimum of regulations. This is particularly true as regards tax regulations, and IOS and its subsidiaries have paid taxes at very low rates (almost no taxes are paid in the United States despite equity investments in this country in excess of $1 billion).
It is the conclusion of the committee staff that the bank secrecy laws of the countries in which IOS operates enable investors in the U.S. securities market to conceal their identity and the purpose of their investments. This in turn makes possible (1) the purchase of stock without meeting the margin limitation on credit promulgated for this purpose by the Federal Reserve, (2) the funneling of funds from illegal enterprises into legal businesses, (3) "insider” trading by those with privileged information, to the possible detriment of other stockholders, (4) possible weaknesses in security when companies controlled by unknown individuals have defense contracts, and (5) evasion of income taxes.
INVESTORS OVERSEAS SERVICES Investors Overseas Services (IOS) was the forerunner of a growing number of off'shore mutual funds which, theoretically, sell their shares to non-Americans, using most of the proceeds to invest in American securities and real estate.
One reason for the tremendous growth of these funds is attributed partially to the fact that most of them operate from countries having corporate and bank secrecy laws. Thus, investors seeking to remain anonymous for any number of reasons, either proper or improper, can do so. Another reason is the Foreign Investors Tax Act enacted by Congress in 1966. This act, in effect, said that if a corporation's sole activity in the United States was the buying and selling of securities, it was not considered doing business in the U.S. and therefore, not subject to U.S. income tax laws. The total amount invested in the American market by these funds is now estimated to be several billion dollars.
IOS is by far the largest of these funds. It was founded as a mutual fund sales business in Paris in 1956 by Bernard Cornfeld. Incorporated as a Panamanian corporation in 1960, it was expanded to include mutual fund management and a vast complex of other financial activities. The Panamanian corporation was reconstituted as a Canadian corporation during the week commencing June 20, 1969, without change in management. The company's principal executive offices are in Geneva, Switzerland, and the registered office is in Montreal, Canada. In addition, the company maintains more than 200 regional sales, administrative, and information offices throughout the world, including Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Netherland Antilles, Panama, Spain, and Switzerland. IOS divested itself of its United States companies rather than provide full listing of investors, together with their detailed accounts requested by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The litigation leading to the divestitute of these U.S. companies and the revealing agreement are discussed later in the report and in the testimony to be given by the Securities and Exchange Commission before the Committee.
The company has grown into an international sales and financial service organization principally engaged in the sale and management of mutual funds and complementary financial activities, including: (a) investment and commercial banking, providing financial services, among others, in connection with the purchase and carrying of mutual fund shares; (b) sales and management of real estate investments and properties; and (c) life insurance, equity related policies and mutual fund program completion insurance. A diagram showing IOS and its principal subsidiaries appears in Appendix I. Consolidated net income has increased from $1,683,000 in 1964 to a reported $14,369,000 in 1968.
In terms of its sales volume, the company presently is the largest distributor of mutual funds and related equity investment products in the world, and, in terms of assets under management, the largest manager of mutual funds outside the l'nited States. Total net assets of the mutual funds managed by the company increased from $119,668,000 at December 31, 1964, to $1,821,754,000 at August 31, 1969. As of June 30, 1969, the company reported that about two-thirds of the investments in securities held by company-managed mutual funds were invested in equity securities of United States corporations and approximately one-third was invested outside the United States. As of September 25, 1969, the company owned four percent or more of the securities of some 50 American companies. The company is represented on the board of directors of several of these companies because of the large ownership of equity securities and on others in accordance with loan agreements that were the result of large short and long-term loans.
The company's sales force numbers in excess of 13,000. In addition, the company employs more than 3,000 executive and administrative personnel to support the sales force and to service its more than 750,000 fund, bank, and insurance accounts. These accounts are from investors from more than 100 different countries.
The company exercises central direction of its sales force from its executive offices in Geneva and maintains departments in Geneva and also in FerneyVoltaire, France, covering the various fields of operation. A multi-lingual staff of correspondents is maintained to respond to inquiries from clients and others in ten languages. A translation department insures distribution of most company publications and sales material in at least five languages-English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
The financial data on IOS and its mutual fund management, banking and other financial activity, real estate, and insurance operations in subsequent sections of this report were obtained principally from IOS Prospectus dated September 24, 1969, because the secrecy under which IOS is operated precludes obtaining information from more objective sources. This prospectus was for the sale of IOS, Ltd., stock outside the United States, hence, it did not come under the review of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Capitalization
The capitalization of IOS and its subsidiaries as of June 30, 1969, as adjusted to give effect to a recapitalization in September 1969, was as follows:
June 30, 1969 as adjusted
Minority interests in :
Consolidated subsidiaries --
$772, 000 2, 206, 000
2, 978, 000
10, 826, 000
Total Shareholders' equity :
Preferred shares, $0.25 par value (75,000,000 shares authorized
(1); 43,303,368 shares issued and outstanding at June 30,
(2); 5,392,000 shares issued and outstanding at June 30,
10,992,000 shares issued and outstanding).
1, 348, 000 8,951, 000 (4, 794, 000)) 43, 560, 000 (1, 035,000)
Total shareholders' equity.
58, 856, 000
61, 834, 000
One of the company's principal sources of income is the sale and management of mutual funds. The largest mutual funds managed by the company—The Fund of Funds, Limited ("FOF"), IIT-International Investment Trut (IIT), and 105 Venture Fund (International) XV. ("Venture Fund International") are sold internationally except in the United States and a few other countries where they are not allowed to be sold. The company has recently developed "national” mutual funds, such as Fonditalia (Italy) and Investors Fonds (West Germany). These funds are designed so that the company can take every advantage available from local laws, especially as related to taxes.
In general, the company has voting or management control of the mutual funds which it sells and manages, thereby giving the company the ability to revise management and other contractual arrangements including the amount of fees rendered between itself and the funds, subject in some instances to approval by governmental authority and in some other instances, approval by fund shareholders.
The company's banking, real estate and insurance subsidiaries conduct some activities which are unrelated to mutual funds, but the services offered to the public by each of these subsidiaries are promoted principally through the company's sales organization. In addition, the company's banking and insurance subsidiaries derive a substantial part of their revenue through activities which directly support, or are directly supported by, the company's mutual fund activities.
The banking group consists of banks in the Bahamas, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Luxemburg. This group offers customary European commercial banking services and much of its revenues are generated by lending deposited funds. The banks also conduct investment banking activities which include the underwriting of Eurodollar securities. A finance company subsidiary derives revenues from loans to finance the purchase and carrying of client investments in company-managed mutual funds, as do some of the subsidiary banks. Some members of the banking group derive part of their revenue from the conversion of currencies for the accounts of clients investing in company-managed mutual funds and from soliciting dealer fees in various tender and exchange offers for securities held by such funds. In countries where the law and stock exchange regulations permit, members of the banking group participate in brokerage commissions from transactions by the mutual funds.
Income from real estate activities has been principally earned in connection with sales of condominium apartments, in various stages of construction, located in Spain, Florida, and Mexico.
Revenues from life insurance and related operations consist primarily of premium income from Dover Plan equity linked life insurance policies (where premiums are principally allocated to a portfolio of mutual funds and other securities managed by the company) and premium income on program completion insurance which is marketed by the sales organization as part of ten- or fifteenyear investment programs in shares of mutual funds.
The activities of the company's principal operational groups have interrelationships, which contribute substantially to the net income of the banking, real estate and insurance groups. The following table gives the percentage contribution of each group to the consolidated net income of the company for the five years ending December 31, 1968. This table demonstrates the banking and financial groups' increasing growth and increasing contributions to total earnings.
Note: The consolidated net income of IOS, Ltd., and subsidiaries increased from $1,683,000 in calendar year 1964 to $14,369,000 in calendar year 1968. For the 6 months ended June 30, 1969, consolidated net income totaled $9,521,000, an increase of $5,066,000 over consolidated net income of $5,455,000 for the 6 months ended June 30, 1968. Consolidated retained earnings increased from $2,536,000 at Dec. 31, 1964, to $35,280,000 at Dec. 31, 1968. For the 6 months ended June 30, 1969, the retained earnings balance at the end of the period was $43,560,000, an increase of $25,139,000 over the balance of $18,421,000 at the end of the 6-month period ended June 30, 1968.
The taxation laws of the various countries appear to have a large influence on the pattern of growth and activities of the company and its subsidiaries. Because the company is operated when possible in countries with minimum regulations and taxes, the company and its subsidiaries have paid taxes at a very low rate.
The company, as a non-resident Canadian company, pays no income taxes in Canada and it has a very favorable tax agreement with the Swiss Federal and Cantonal governments whereby the taxes paid there are minimal. Certain subsidiaries in the Bahamas pay no taxes. Although IOS had about $1.2 billion of investments in the United States at August 21, 1969, it pays almost no income taxes in this country. The following table demonstrates the small amount of taxes the company pays in relation to its earned income.
Mutual Fund Management
The company provides management services to its mutual funds in three groups :
(i) Through subsidiaries of Investors Overseas Management Limited (“IOS Management”), an approximately 77%-owned subsidiary of the company.
(2) Through management subsi ries of the company which IOS Management has a right to acquire in the future.
(3) Through other subsidiaries of the company.
IOS Management owns the respective management companies which manage the following: FOF, IIT, Venture Fund International, Fonditalia, IOS Regent Fund Ltd. (“Regent Fund”), Investors Funds and Investment Properties International, Limited ("IPI"). Management fees charged directly to the funds range from 1/24th of 1% per month of average total net assets (12 of 1% per annum) in the case of Regent Fund to 10% of quarterly net income and realized and unrealized capital gains, subject to a minimum monthly fee of 1/12th of 1% of net assets (1% per annum), in the case of Venture Fund International. The company receives a sales charge of up to 1% when these managed funds purchase shares in other company-controlled funds. The company also receives management fee income from certain proprietary funds for rendering investment advice to particular fund sub-accounts. There is little regulation regarding the payment of these fees.
The mutual funds also pay the charges directly related to their investment portfolios, principally brokerage commissions. Since these funds do not come under the Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, a portion of total brokerage commissions paid is given up to the bank subsidiaries of the company.
Direct portfolio management is centered in the Company's Geneva-based Investment Management Division which at June 30, 1969, managed approximately 60% of the assets of Company-managed mutual funds.
Indirect portfolio management results from services rendered by approximately 30 sub-advisors, located in the United States, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom and Italy, who have been retained to render specific portfolio advice concerning selected portions of the investment portfolios of FOF, The Fund of Funds Sterling Limited (“FOF Sterling”), Fonditalia, Regent Fund, IOS Venture Fund Ltd. (“Venture Fund”), Venture Fund International and the direct investment portion of The Equity Unit Account of The Dover Plan ("The Equity Unit Account”).
Funds managed by 10S
The following table presents information concerning the open-end mutual funds distributed and managed by IOS:
Aug. 31, 1969 Total net assets of mutual funds under management ---- $1, 821, 7534, 000 Fund (year organized or acquired) The Fund of Funds, Ltd. (1962) Total
676, 161, 000 IIT, an International Investment Trust (1962) Total
623, 193, 000 IOS Venture Fund (International) V.V. (1969) Total
137, 198, 000 Fonditalia (1967) Total
126, 593, 000 The Equity Unit Account of The Dover Plan (1963) Total
114, 812, 000 1.O.S. Regent Fund Ltd. (183) Total
70, 700, 000 Investors Funds (1968) Total
49, 138, 000 The Fund of Funds Sterling Limited (1965) Total
36, 014, 000 1.O.S. Venture Fund Ltd. (1968) Total
29, 22, 000 I.V.J. Invest N.V. ("IVM") (1969) Total
1, 271, 000 Svenska Internationella Invertmentfonden ("Interfond") (1969) Total
874, 000 Rothchild-Expansion (1969).
) i Not available.
In early 1965, the Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation of IOS to (1) determine the impact of its activities on registered mutual funds and on the securities markets and (2) to determine whether it or any of its subsidiaries had violated the Federal Securities laws. Litigation by SEC against IOS resulted from this investigation, and culminated in a settlement under which IOS agreed to cease all operations in the United States which come under the regulation of SEC. This included sales to United States citizens anywhere. The details of the investigation, the litigation, and the settlement are discussed in the SEC testimony before this Committee. IOS investments in United States companies
Securities and Exchange Commission personnel furnished the Banking and Currency Committee with a listing of IOS and IOS-affiliated company investments at September 25, 1969. The list shows the combined stock, bond, and note holdings of Fund of Funds Proprietary Funds, Ltd., International Investment Trust Fund, Fonditalia, IOS Venture Fund of Canada, IOS International Ventures Fund, and Regents Funds.
Our analysis of the information in the list indicated that IOS and its affiliates held stock, bond, or note interests in a total of about 522 companies (domestic and foreign) at September 25, 1969, and their combined holdings represented 4 percent or more of the oustanding issues of such holdings in about 62 of the 522 companies. About 464 of the 522 companies were United States companies and the IOS and affiliated company combined holdings represented 4 percent or more of the oustanding issues of such holdings in about 50 of the 464 United States companies.
In preparing this paper concerning Investors Overseas Services we have tried to be responsive to Chairman Patman's letter of November 7, 1969 to Chairman Budge, which stated :
“We would like background information on how this organization was formed and the circumstances of the agreement whereby Overseas Investors Services removed itself from SEC jurisdiction. We are interested in the inability of the Commission to examine the books and records of IOS because of the latter's