Harvesting Cash: Even Foreigners in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong Get US Farm Subsidies
WASHINGTON — A sports-team owner, a financial-firm executive and residents of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were among 2,702 millionaire recipients of farm payments from 2003 to 2006 — and it's not even clear they were legitimate farmers, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Monday.
According to the report, the 2,702 recipients exceeded the $2.5 million and got less than 75% of their income from these activities. The payments to them totaled more than $49 million.
GAO investigators offered these examples of likely improper payments:
• A founder and former executive of an insurance company received more than $300,000 in farm-program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 that should have been subject to the income limits.
• An individual with ownership interest in a professional-sports franchise received more than $200,000 for those same years that should have been barred by the income limits.
• A person residing in a country outside of the United States received more than $80,000 for 2003, 2005 and 2006 on the basis of the individual's ownership interest in two farming entities.
The investigators also found nine recipients resided outside of the United States — in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, for example.