Friends, family and the Panama Papers: how the criminal investigation into David Rothman unfolded

Two years after David Rothman founded the movie and TV production company Prospect Park, he paid himself more than $400,000 by using a Panamanian shell company to buy and sell an Atlanta home. So said Rothman’s former Florida driver’s license, obtained by the New York Times using public records and granted by prosecutors in Montreal to those who had previously investigated Rothman.

According to the Times, the address used in the arrangement belonged to an apartment complex owned by a charity run by Rothman’s friend, Jamie Ellertson, a securities lawyer who he still works with.

However, the $63,000 he paid in sales taxes and a $1,550 mortgage payment, along with a $54,547 profit from the sale, was accounted for by a series of paychecks Rothman wrote to Ellertson, or they were being put in a separate, “limited liability company” Rothman founded in 2008, according to New York State corporation records.

Who funded Rothman’s personal life with the secret firm he used to avoid paying taxes on his real estate profits? He had to trust his friend to do so, the Times reported, because he and his wife had an “unexplained but multimillion-dollar debt.”

Nevertheless, the State Department told ProPublica in a statement that it would no longer regulate or inspect the company in question. Ellertson’s “unwillingness to provide any documents (that were needed to determine compliance with the law) contributed to the company’s noncompliance,” the statement said. “We then sent notice to the company that unless they gave us a response, the Obama administration would end the enforcement mechanism and not renew the exemption, and provide this type of exemption to anyone who applied in the future.”

Pregnant with Rothman’s child, Ellertson couldn’t tell him about the ownership structure. Nor could anyone in his life who was cooperating with investigators. The Times did reach out to 50 people who had worked or knew Rothman, who suggested in interviews that he was wealthy, gifted his wealth to others, and seemed to go to great lengths to hide it.

Read the full story on The New York Times.


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