Three-year investigation uncovers massive financial fraud in Aloha corporation mill
PORTLAND – The Portland Business
|Reporter Matthew Kish of the Portland|
Kish, who researched and wrote the story headlined “The Shell Game,” will be presented with a check for $1,000 from the Friends of Bruce Baer, sponsors of the annual award. The story was published in October 2015.
Kish uncovered “The Shell Game” in 2012, when he came across a regulatory filing that said a company using a small, weathered home in Aloha was seeking to raise $140 million. His trail led to Bengt Stenbock, a twice-convicted felon who had served sentences for drug-smuggling and wire fraud in California.
Stenbock had turned to Oregon to begin business forming “shell companies” – businesses with no operations and no employees. Obtainable for $30,000 or less, shell companies are ideal for moving large sums of money with little detection. Often, the shell company would mimic a long-established corporation by changing just one letter of the company’s name.
The Aloha house is now the home to 1,300 other shell businesses. In January, Oregon Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said her office would develop legislation to combat shell-company problems.
Willamette Week Reporter Nigel Jaquiss Earns Special Recognition
Willamette Week reporter Nigel Jaquiss, a three-time Bruce Baer Award winner, was selected for Special Recognition by the award committee.
For 15 years, a Portland foster care provider operated four group homes under the name “Give Us This Day.” The state’s Department of Human Services had been lenient financially and slow to react to reports of child neglect.
In a series titled “Home Sweet Hustle,” Jaquiss revealed that “Give Us This Day” had neglected to pay creditors, employees, and the IRS. Much of the money had been diverted for personal use, and former employees told of squalid living conditions in the group homes.
Prompted by the stories, both the federal government and the Oregon Legislature have begun investigations.
About the Award: The Bruce Baer Award has been presented annually since 1978. The award honors the late Bruce Baer, a political reporter for the Portland Reporter and for 13 years with Portland’s KATU, Channel 2. The award focuses on in-depth coverage of Oregon politics and public affairs.
Stories are judged on the quality of effort in reporting, and the enterprise and courage reflected in the work.
For more information about this year's winners, the Bruce Baer Award or the Friends of Bruce Baer, contact Roger Anthony at 503-998-5509 or go online to http://journalism.uoregon.edu/brucebaer.
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