By LOUIS FLORES
Gabrielle Fialkoff, the director of the New York City Office of Strategic Partnerships, has been identified as a shareholder in an offshore business advised by Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the center of a global journalistic investigation into offshore tax havens.
Ms. Fialkoff’s role in the offshore company was revealed in a report published by McClatchy DC.
UPAC Holdings Ltd was incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands in June 2012, according to the McClatchy DC report. Ms. Fialkoff and her brother, Brett Fialkoff were identified as shareholders in the offshore company.
For the McClatchy DC report, Ms. Fialkoff denied any knowledge of the company and deferred comment to her brother, who, in turn, said that he set up the business as part of plans to import accessories to the United States from China. Even though Mr. Fialkoff said that he had abandoned the overseas business, the business remained active, according to information dated as of December 2015 and cited by the McClatchy report.
In the past, Ms. Fialkoff has identified herself alternatively as owner and chief operating officer of the family business, Haskell Jewels, which designs and markets costume jewelry, according to online records of the municipal campaign finance regulatory authority.
The information cited in the McClatchy report was obtained from a database leak from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that reportedly advised individuals to incorporate businesses in offshore tax havens, the subject of which has spawned a global collaboration of journalists to expose the exploitation of offshore tax shelters. Abuse of tax havens by the wealthy deprive their home jurisdictions of taxes that, as citizens, the wealthy individuals are required by law to pay to support public services.
Not long after the first release of news reports based on Mossack Fonseca documents, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (Progressive Party-Iceland) was forced to resign after revelations showed that his family held assets in an offshore company. José Manuel Soria, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain, was also forced to resign after he was linked to offshore companies. Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative Party-U.K.) has been under political pressure for having profited from his father’s offshore investments.
Given the McClatchy DC revelations, it is not known if Ms. Fialkoff will be allowed to remain in her post in the de Blasio administration. A request sent to the City Hall press office for comment about Ms. Fialkoff was not immediately answered.
Ms. Fialkoff has been described as a longtime friend and a close advisor to Mayor de Blasio.
In the 2013 election cycle, Ms. Fialkoff was a contributor to New Yorkers for de Blasio, the campaign committee for Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City), which is reportedly the subject of a wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation. Before she was named as director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Ms. Fialkoff was chair of Mayor de Blasio's inauguration committee. Two members of that committee, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, are reportedly subjects in the same wide-ranging investigation.
In 2000, Ms. Fialkoff served as finance director for former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s U.S. Senatorial campaign committee when Mayor de Blasio served as campaign manager.
In 2014, Mayor de Blasio created the office, which Ms. Fialkoff directs. From her office, Ms. Fialkoff has coordinated the public-private partnership experiment between large 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities affiliated with the City of New York and private donors. Her job has been to raise money from the private sector to support the mayor’s agenda. For example, Ms. Fialkoff announced in 2015 that the de Blasio administration had raised $9 million for education-related causes, according to a report published by POLITICO New York.
How Mayor de Blasio has raised money from the private sector, particularly from real estate interests and to benefit his various campaign committees, is another reported aspect of the wide-ranging, Federal corruption probe.
At a speech delivered at a convention of the New York Press Association delivered on 8 April, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced that his office has taken note of the media's investigation into the Panama Papers, as the journalistic reports based on Mossack Fonseca documents are being referred, saying, “When there is a case to pursue based on things that are in the public record, we will pursue them, and that’s a normal thing that folks do in our office,” according to a report published by Sun Community News.