From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

A theory on Trump’s $1bn loss in 1995. Two weeks ago an anonymous source posted Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return to The New York Times. The Republican presidential nominee’s income tax statements have been keenly sought, as the mogul-turned-politician has broken with tradition in not releasing them this election season. The Times concluded that the $916 million loss on Trump’s 1995 tax return would have enabled him to avoid paying any federal income taxes on incomes up to $50 million a year for up to 18 years.

But Bronte Capital founder John Hempton, a famous Australian hedge fund boss whose blog is closely followed by financial journalists, has another theory. He doesn’t think Trump would have had the financial ability to absorb a near-$1 billion loss in 1995, which means it’s likely he’s passed on the debt associated with that loss elsewhere. Hempton reckons the loss listed on Trump’s tax return would probably have been resolved through “debt-parking” — where a dummy corporation takes over an individual’s debt and does nothing to collect, enabling that individual to carry on with their business without dealing with the loss. If this were true, it is significant because it means it’s unlikely that Trump would be able to avoid income tax in the way the NYT has described. As he writes on his blog:

“There is a vehicle out there (say an offshore trust or other undisclosed related party effectively controlled by Donald Trump) — which owns over $900 million in debt and is not bothering to collect it. I do not have the time or energy to find that vehicle. But it is there. Now that this blog has gone public journalists are going to look for it. There is a Pulitzer prize for whoever finds it. Just give me a nod at the acceptance ceremony.”

The post has provoked much, highly detailed commentary in the comments. Not being an accountant, Ms Tips couldn’t begin to guess who has the right of it. Of course, Hempton’s post is mostly (well-informed) conjecture. A truer picture of Trump’s financial assets, and exactly what he does to avoid paying tax, would be best illustrated through greater openness on the part of the candidate, including through releasing his full tax returns. But we might be kept waiting on that.

Up there Cazaly. While the euphoria of the grand final weekend is wearing off and the sadness of waiting until March sinks in, Ms Tips hears that the party was rollicking along for the rich, famous and powerful at the September Club at the AFL grand final on Saturday. At the $2000-a-head event, baby-faced Liberal Senator James Paterson was seen in the NAB marquee (separate branded tents included SEN, CrocMedia, Triple M, Seven, Telstra and Carlton Draught), while Crikey‘s own Stephen Mayne was spotted in the AFL tent, chatting to Geelong coach Chris Scott, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Daily Telegraph editor Chris Dore.

Our tipster asks “any chance of real-time declarations?”. It wasn’t just a place for luminaries of the media, politics, and business worlds, with many former and current players seen rubbing their muscly shoulders with others. One tipster tells us he saw Neale and Terry Daniher, Brent Harvey, Mick Martin and Taylor Walker, along with Dermott Brereton, Billy Brownless and Jonathan Brown (who was really loving the AC/DC cover band). AFL boss Gillon McLachlan dropped in, while AFL commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick bowed out early in the evening, at 9.30pm, before the official proceedings wrapped up at 11pm.

Just keep walking. Nine Australian men are spending a few days locked up in Malaysia, wishing they could have the luxury of drinking champagne out of a shoe after being remanded for stripping down to their smalls after the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Australians decided to celebrate Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s win by taking off their clothes to reveal a matching set of budgie smugglers decorated with the Malaysian flag. The New Strait Times reports that they are being investigated “for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace”. The website, which is government-controlled, blurred the image of the men’s swimmers to protect the sensitivities of readers:

new-strait-times

One of the men arrested is Jack Walker, a staffer to senior government minister Christopher Pyne. By the look of his Instagram, choosing sport-themed budgie smugglers has long been a habit. He posted this image of Wallabies swimmers last year:

jack-walker-instagram

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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