Financial History Issue 121 (Spring 2017) - Page 21
so. (It was established later that Anderson
received treatment for alcoholism some 10
times in his life, which was likely a factor.)
When Eisenhower left office in 1961,
Anderson chose to pursue private invest-
ment and banking interests in New York.
Yet, during the 1960s, he also carried out
diplomatic missions for his old friend,
then President Johnson. One of these mis-
sions related to working on new treaties
for the Panama Canal. From 1964 to 1973,
he was a special ambassador to Panama.
In the 1980s, for a man with a long, dis-
tinguished career of service to the United
States, Anderson’s undertakings seemed
to meander into unfamiliar territory.
Among other things, he became an eco-
nomic adviser to the Sultan of Oman and
a lobbyist and consultant for the contro-
versial Reverend Sun Myung Moon and
his Church of Unification. From 1983 to
1985, from offices in New York, he became
the primary agent and representative of
the Commercial Exchange Bank and Trust
of Anguilla in the British West Indies.
In 1983, Anderson came under inves-
tigation by federal authorities for a plot
to sell arms to Iran. He was not charged,
though he may have played a role.
By March 1987, Anderson’s question-
able activities caught up with him, and the
77-year-old former Secretary of the Trea-
sury was indicted in New York and pled
guilty to charges of income tax fraud for
1983 and 1984 and illegally operating an
unregistered off-shore bank. In the years
that he was charged with tax fraud, he had
used his Anguilla bank to hide $79,000 in
income he received as a consultant and
lobbyist from the Church of Unification,
as well as income from other sources.
Disparagingly, the United States attor-
ney in Manhattan, Rudolph Giuliani, said
there was “no excuse” for someone of
Anderson’s background and experience to
have engaged in such criminal activity. He
further charged that Anderson had carried
out “a pattern of criminality” and that the
government would seek prison time for
In court, Anderson, who appeared frail,
told the judge that his troubles had begun
with his alcoholism. Also, his wife of 52
years had died in 1987 after a long struggle
with Alzheimer’s that took its toll on him.
He told the judge that he regretted what
he had done.
Convicted of tax evasion for 1983 and
1984 and operating an unregistered bank,
Judge Edmund Palmieri gave Anderson a
light sentence in consideration of his pre-
vious service to his country — one month
in jail, five months’ house arrest and five
years’ probation. Disgraced, he died of
complications of cancer surgery in New
York in 1989 at the age of 79.
Ron Hunka, a freelance writer who lives
in Austin, Texas, has written articles
for Financial History about notorious
frauds, mainly in Texas. Elsewhere, he
has published stories about the history
of inte resting castles and monasteries
visited in countries including Germany,
Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Cover of Time magazine featuring
Robert B. Anderson, November 23, 1959.
Lubasch, Arnold H. “Ex-Treasury Chief
Admits Tax Fraud and Banking Crime.”
The New York Times. March 27, 1987.
Naylor, R.T. Wages of Crime. Ithaca: Cornell
University Press. 2004.
him. Part of that pattern was reflected
in Anderson’s advertising of his bank
as a “tax-free environment” with “client
Anderson admitted in court proceed-
ings that he had violated reporting and
registration regulations. Although the
bank’s offices were in New York, he had
not registered with authorities there. In
addition, the bank also lost $4 million of
its investors’ funds in fraudulent oil and
Pace, Eric. “Robert B. Anderson, Ex-Treasury
Chief, Dies at 79.” The New York Times.
August 16, 1989.
Richter, Paul. “Former Treasury Secretary
Faces Prison.” Los Angeles Times. March
“Robert Anderson.” NNDB Intelligence Aggre-
“Robert Bernard Anderson: From Tax Policy
to Tax Evasion.” The Downfall Dictionary.
January 18, 2009.
“Treasury’s Anderson: A Soft Answer Turneth
Away Tax Cuts.” Time. June 9, 1958.
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