WASHINGTON — When Mitt Romney launched Bain Capital in 1984, he struggled at first to raise enough money for the untested venture. Old-money families like the Rothschilds turned down the young Boston consultant.
So he and his partners tapped an eclectic roster of investors, raising more than a third of their first $37-million investment fund from wealthy foreigners.
Most of the foreign investors' money came through corporations registered in Panama, then known for tax advantages and unusual banking secrecy.
Previously unreported details, documented in Massachusetts corporate filings and other public records, show that Bain Capital was enmeshed in the largely opaque world of international high finance from its very inception.
The documents don't indicate any wrongdoing, and experts say that such financial vehicles are common for wealthy foreign investors. But the new details come as President Obama has criticized Romney for profiting from Bain Capital's own offshore investment entities, which are unavailable to most Americans.
The Romney campaign declined to comment on the specifics of Bain's early investors. Romney has argued that his offshore investments are entirely proper, and that he has paid all the U.S. taxes that he owes. The offshore funds do provide tax advantages for foreign investors, allowing Bain to attract billions of dollars.
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