Mitt Romney's Endless 'Retirement' Package

This story is part of a package on Mitt Romney's Bain holdings. For the full report, go here.

Romney has long claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that he retired from Bain Capital in 1999. The Bain documents we obtained indicate that his involvement with the company extended years past that date.

Romney owns a stake in Sankaty Credit Opportunities L.P., a Delaware-based partnership. According to its financial statements, it had $201 million in assets in 2009 and a $52 million gain on the year—that's after a stunning $91 million loss in 2008. But what's interesting about Sankaty Credit Opportunities is that, according to his 2012 financial disclosure, Romney's interest in the entity was part of his retirement package: It was made "pursuant to an agreement with Bain Capital regarding Mr. Romney's retirement" in 1999. But according to its audited financial statement, Sankaty Credit Opportunities didn't exist yet when Romney retired: "Sankaty Credit Opportunities, L.P., is a Delaware limited partnership which commenced operations on August 12, 2002." In other words, Romney's 1999 retirement agreement included an investment in an entity created in 2002—in fact, was created in the heat of his first gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts. When Romney explained at an October 29, 2002, debate in Massachusetts that he wasn't responsible for Bain's actions after his 1999 retirement, it was just 8 weeks after the creation by Bain of a fund that was part of his retirement agreement.

Mitt Romney's Endless 'Retirement' Package

Even more drastic, Sankaty Credit Opportunities IV—of which Romney owns more than $1 million in his IRA and which earned him between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2011, and which is likewise described as an investment made pursuant to his retirement package—wasn't even created until July 2008. That's nine years after his retirement from Bain and five months after he withdrew from the 2008 GOP primary.

Romney's defenders have claimed that the abundant evidence that his involvement with Bain extended past 1999—and therefore implicated him in some of the firm's more controversial actions—was a smokescreen, and that the various SEC forms listing him as "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of Bain were mere formalities while his retirement was being negotiated. That may be true, but it's difficult to explain an apparent $1 million-plus payment from Bain, made in 2008, as being pursuant to a retirement package that was negotiated in 1999.

UPDATE: Forbes' Fortune's Dan Primack, who claims to have had access to most of the documents released in this package for months, says that Romney's retirement agreement with Bain entitled him to limited partnership stakes in all Bain funds raised for ten years after he left the company, which would explain how his investments in the 2002 and 2008 funds could be considered part of the 1999 agreement.

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