Jailed and held without bond in the nation's largest alleged personal tax-evasion scheme, telecom investor Walter Anderson says the federal government has got it all wrong.
He isn't a tax cheat, he said Wednesday night in a conference room at the D.C. jail. Sending millions of dollars to offshore havens -- which the government alleges he did to evade around $200 million in taxes -- was part of a legitimate and long-standing plan.
He was going to use the money to change the world. To fight for arms control and human rights. To promote family planning and space exploration. He was going to give the money away, starting next year.
"I don't need to steal money from the U.S. government to be successful," Anderson said in a wide-ranging 2 1/2-hour interview. "I don't want their money."
Yesterday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay ordered Anderson held at the D.C. jail until a March 11 hearing. He decided Anderson posed too high a risk of fleeing the country.
"You have the means -- and the interest -- in avoiding trial," the judge said.
Anderson angrily stood up during the hearing to complain about the prosecution. "The government's allegations are inflammatory," he said. "I'm trying to run legitimate businesses, and I don't intend to let the government ruin my credibility."
It was not his first complaint about the government. In the 1980s, he launched a campaign against high-occupancy-vehicle lane restrictions on Interstate 66 and was repeatedly ticketed for violating them. The restrictions smacked of "government interference in people's private affairs," he told a judge.
In the interview Wednesday, arranged through a friend, Anderson rebutted the charges against him and mocked some of the more sensational evidence the government has marshaled in arguing that he is a flight risk. Describing himself as press-shy, Anderson added his comments to the emerging portrait of a man who quietly amassed hundreds of millions of dollars -- by his own account, almost entirely for the betterment of humanity.
At times referring to notes scribbled on the back of his indictment, Anderson said the assets the government claims he hid belong to the Smaller World Foundation, which he controls and endowed with full ownership of various companies he runs, such as Space Inc. and Iceberg Transport SA. The plan was for the foundation to begin giving money away in 2006, after the assets had had time to grow, he said. Anderson said he lost any personal interest in money some time ago, as long as he had a place to live and enough to buy dinner.