Missing CEO William H. Millard of ComputerLand has been found 20 years later after his 1990 disappearance. He founded the widespread retail computer chain in 1974. In fact, his company was one of the outlets chosen to introduce the IBM PC in 1981.
Tax authorities say Millard owes about $100 million in taxes. He was last seen by the tax authorities in 1990 when he was living on the remote Pacific Island of Saipan. However, he was tracked down to be living in a mansion in Grand Cayman with his wife.
A team of investigators and a New York law firm are now looking into 50 shell companies they say were created by Millard over the years.
“This is one of the most sophisticated and complicated cases of offshore asset structuring that we have ever seen,” said Michael Kim, a partner of Kobre and Kim, the law firm leading the case. “He’s had more than 20 years to move money all over the world.”
Investigators were able to locate the former CEO when he was seen attending a Christmas dinner with his daughter in Florida last year. According to Millard’s lawyer, Terry Giles, he was not made aware of the fact he owed a tax bill until a few days ago. He went on to say that it was “ludicrous and insulting” the idea that his client was hiding.
Millard ended up selling ComputerLand in 1987 for $200 million and moved his family to Saipan. At the time, the country could reduce the tax rate imposed by U.S. law on income sourced in the Northern Marianas, and it did so. Residents got a 95% rebate of the taxes they would normally have owed under U.S. law.
However, the commonwealth said he didn’t qualify even for those breaks, since ComputerLand was built in the U.S. and thus was subject to its tax rates. In 1990, Millard moved his family away from Saipan leaving behind a half built mansion. The following year, the Northern Marianas’ tax department issued a deficiency notice to the CEO and hist attorneys in the United States.