Shocking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. & Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations

In an exclusive story, Cruise Line News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation recently incorporated its business in the United States (in the state of Delaware). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami.

Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America.

Cruise Law News' discovery of this historic event came about when prominent maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's Chairman Micky Arison at court side when Arison's championship basketball team, the Miami Heat, won another game. Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade and LeBron James earn several hundred million dollars from Carnival and pay tens of Mickey Arison Miami Heat Carnival Cruisemillions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 15 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sales - pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?"

Perhaps it was the euphoria of the Heat beating the Portland Trailblazers by two points in a close victory, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.

While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, expert cruise lawyer Walker happened to have U.S. articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships.

Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, poop-cruises, pirate-attacks, flounderings, Concordia-disasters, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada concert which have ruined the last 37 Carnival cruises.  Senator Jay Rockefeller recently called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.

Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.

Arison admitted that he felt guilty selling 1% of his Carnival stock for a $395,000,000 profit while suspending the crew member's retirement benefits.

"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred % of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system! "I want Carnival Cruise Line to be synonymous with Old Betsy - the U.S. Stars and Stripes - what the U.S. stands for! Its time that indigent crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!" 

While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.

Breaking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations

In an exclusive story, Cruise Line News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation recently incorporated its business in the United States (in the state of Delaware). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami.

Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America.

Cruise Law News' discovery of this historic event came about when prominent maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's CEO Micky Arison at court side when Arison's championship basketball team, the Miami Heat, won another game.  Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade and LeBron James earn several hundred million dollars from Carnival and pay Micky Arison - Miami Heat - Carnival Cruisetens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 15 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sale - pays a few billion dollars in U.S. taxes?"

Perhaps it was the euphoria of the Heat beating the San Antonia Spurs by two points in a close overtime victory, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.

While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, expert cruise lawyer Walker happened to have U.S. articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships.

Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, pirate-attacks, flounderings, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada onboard concert which have ruined the last 37 Carnival cruises.  Just last week Senator Jay Rockefeller called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect on the high seas. 

Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.

"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred % of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system! "I want Carnival Cruise Line to be synonymous with Old Betsy - the U.S. Stars and Stripes - what the U.S. stands for! Its time that indigent crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!"

While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.

April 1 2013 Update: South Florida Business Journal picks up on this shocking development in the cruise industry. Read here.

Tonight on NBC: Carnival CEO Micky Arison Comes Under Congressional Scrutiny

Tonight NBC will take a hard look at Carnival CEO Micky Arison who I have written about on this blog. 

Micky Arison is well liked here in Miami, mostly for bringing a couple of NBA basketball championships to South Florida - first with Shaq and later with D-Wade and Lebron James who he has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on. He is extraordinarily wealthy with somewhere between 5 and 6 billion dollars.

Arison is also extraordinary in his ability to exploit crew members from impoverished countries like India and the Caribbean islands who work over 350 hours a month for as little as $550.

Carnival Cruise CEO Micky Arison - Tax Cruise ShipsAt 10:00 PM EST tonight, NBC's Rock Center television program will air its investigation into Carnival's cruise line business and how Arison has profited greatly from it. 

Carnival's CEO Micky Arison has incurred the wrath of Senator Jay Rockefeller who expressed his outrage to NBC over Carnival’s abuse of the loopholes in the tax system. Rockefller recently sent a letter to Arison which you can read about here.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told Rock Center's Harry Smith that he regards Carnival “very poorly” as a corporate citizen. Rockefeller says Carnival's extremely low tax rate is "disgusting" particularly  because of the cruise line's extensive use of federal agencies like the US Coast Guard.

NBC points out that the cost of US assistance to the fire-disabled Triumph cruise ship was $779,914.26. And another Carnival ship, the Splendor, suffered an engine fire two years ago that required assistance from the US Coast Guard and the Navy. That cost each service more than $1,500,000 which Carnival did not pay.

During the program tonight, you will see veteran newsman Harry Smith interview me as well. You can watch the video here or wattch the video below.

Will CEO Arison be on the program? No. He's a no-show, just like he has never appeared at the scene of a cruise fire, collision, or catasrophe involving his cruise line guests.

 

 

Interested in this issue?  Here are some other articles I wrote on Micky Arison:

Carnival CEO Micky Arison's Net Worth Increases from $4,700,000,000 to $5,700,000,000, Notwithstanding Costa Concordia Disaster

Hard Times For Carnival? Hardly.

Profits Over People: Carnival's Exploitation of Crew Members is Standard Industry Practice

Cruise Crisis Management FAIL - How Carnival is Ruining its Reputation Following the Costa Concordia Disaster

Is Carnival's Micky Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

 

Art Credit: Nickolay Lamm from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk

Senator Rockefeller to Cruise CEO Micky Arison: Carnival's Failure to Address Safety Issues - "This Needs to Stop"

Senator John Rockefeller TwitterTwitter Smack Down!

A few minutes ago Senator John Rockefeller tweeted to Carnival CEO Mickey Arison:

".@USCoastGuard responded to 90 incidents with Carnival ships in 5yrs- with passengers onboard. This needs to change" http://1.usa.gov/152nF2x "

Senator Rockefeller linked his tweet to a letter he sent to Micky Arison today expressing his deep concerns regarding the safety of Carnival ships and indicated that he was not surprised by the latest incident today regarding the Carnival Dream.  He also sent the Carnival CEO a list of questions and Carnival Triumph Cruise Shiprequested documents.  You can read the remarkable letter here

Senator Rockefeller also posted a Coast Guard spread sheet listing a "string of 90 marine casualty incidents with passengers onboard Carnival ships in the last five years." You can see the list here.

Senator Rockefeller wrote "just today, we’ve been reminded of Carnival’s dismal safety record with reports that the Carnival Dream is experiencing problems. The ship is stranded in a Caribbean port with no power and thousands of passengers trapped onboard. Last month, the Coast Guard spent almost $780,000 in responding to the Carnival Triumph incident – costs that are paid by federal taxpayers.” 

Rockefeller held a Commerce Committee oversight hearing in March 2012, following the Costa Concordia disaster, to examine deficiencies in the cruise line industry’s compliance with federal safety, security, and environmental standards and review whether cruise ship industry regulations sufficiently protect passengers and the environment.

We attended the hearing and blogged about the hearing where Senator Rockefeller said to the cruise Micky Arison Twitterline representatives: "You Are A World Unto Yourselves."

Senator Rockefeller's stinging rebuke of Carnival comes as the cruise industry just ended its annual cruise convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  The cruise executives all touted the safety of the industry and how "rare" cruise mishaps allegedly are.

So far, no tweets by Arison in response to Senator Rockefeller's tweet.

Arison spends most of his time on Twitter tweeting about his Miami Heat basketball team.

Carnival CEO Micky Arison's Net Worth Increases from $4,700,000,000 to $5,700,000,000, Notwithstanding Costa Concordia Disaster

USA TODAY has an interesting article today entitled "Titans of the Cruise Industry See Net Worth Rise."

Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires for 2013 lists Carnival mogul Micky Arison at No. 211 with a net worth of $5.7 billion, up from $4.7 billion a year ago.  Arison's net worth has nearly doubled from four years ago.

Another Carnival heir, Shari Arison, is now worth $4.2 billion, up from $3.4 billion just three years ago, according to Forbes.

Carnival operates over 100 cruise ship among 10 brands including Carnival, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard.

How does cruise tycoon Arison get so rich?  

Registering his cruise lines in foreign countries (like Panama) to avoid U.S. corporate taxes, operating foreign-flagged cruise ships filled with employees from around the world who will work long hours for low wages, not reimbursing the U.S. government for millions incurred by federal agencies like the Coast Guard, Navy, etc., and offering peanut settlements to tax-paying U.S. citizens when his cruise ships sink or catch on fire may be part of the explanation. 

Micky Arison - Carnival Cruise Income - Tax

Art Credit:  Nickolay Lamm from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk

Leave a comment below or discuss the issue on our Facebook page.

Carnival's CEO Micky Arison: "Unfortunately We Have to Pay for Fuel, Food & Players"

Carnival CEO Micky Arison joined Twitter in 2010. I was curious to see how such a big shot cruise executive would interact with the common man on such a popular social media platform like Twitter.

After the Costa Concordia disaster killed 32 of his cruise guests and crew members, cruise CEO Arison made no public appearances. When he was first seen in public it was at the Miami basketball arena here in Miami to watch his Miami Heat play. His first tweet after Concordia sank was "Let's Go Heat." Even when the world press focused on his insensitive and selfish antics, Arison could have cared less it seems. He tweeted away about his celebrity friends and his star studded Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Twitterbasketball team as if Concordia never sank.     

Yesterday Forbes published an article how Arison's cruise empire avoids U.S. income tax - "Ship Isn't The Only Thing That Stinks At Carnival: Low Tax Rate Stirs Ire".  

Forbes explains that Carnival collects billions of dollars every year, but pays about a 1% tax rate because the Arison family incorporated the cruise line in Panama. Even though the cruise line benefits from being located here in Miami and uses the services of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and many other agencies, it essentially gets a free ride. 

As Forbes states: "While the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the seas for Carnival’s ships – and, in the case of the Triumph, towed them back to safety – Carnival ducks out on most U.S. taxes."

Carnival's CEO Arison is a shrewd businessman. He know how to work the system.  His cruise ships use the ports in the U.S. and foreign countries for free.  Local citizens like you or me pay for the port terminals. If there is a port fee or head tax, the passengers pay it. When it comes to his basketball team, the local citizens pay for that too.

The Arison family have been gaming the system for 45 years. They will say that they are taking advantage of legitimate tax loopholes in the I.R.S. Code.  But that begs the question of why the federal tax code is drafted as if it were written by Carnival's tax lawyers and why it has not been amended to result in Carnival paying a reasonable and fair shore of its share.  The truth is that Carnival and other cruise lines spend many millions of dollars lobbying Congress while hiring high ranking federal directors of federal agencies to keep the cozy status quo exactly like it is.

But how much is enough for Arison? Fifteen years ago a local journalist asked "Is Micky Arison a Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Triumph Tent CityGreedy Pig?"  I repeated the question here a few years ago.

Arison is the richest person in Florida, worth over $5,000,000,000. Two months ago, he paid himself a end-of-the-year bonus of $90,000,000 - in the same year where his Concordia killed 32 people. The stricken cruise ship still lies on its side in the waters of Giglio, and the victims of that terrible ordeal were offered only $15,000 by Carnival, but Arison pays himself a $90,000,000 year end bonus.

After the Carnival Triumph ignited off the coast of Mexico last weekend, Arison made no public statements.  Later that Sunday afternoon, there Micky sat at half-court at the Miami Arena watching his Heat beat the Lakers. His last tweet today was an instagram photo of him and Beyonce'.

Just how out-of-touch is this cruise CEO with the reality of the world around him?  Over 4,000 of his guests and ship employees endured a week-long-cruise-from-hell aboard the urine and fecal stained Carnival Triumph but Arison tweets a photo of him hanging with Beyonce'.

The question arises again. Is Micky Arison a greedy pig? In answering the question, consider Arison's bio on his twitter page:

"CEO of Carnival. Owner of your @MiamiHEAT I do not respond to requests for free cruises or Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Beyoncetix. Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food & players."  

"Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food and players?" What a cynical mantra for his luxurious life.

How much greed does it take to turn Arison's enormous prosperity into petty bitterness over having to pay for food for his cruise guests and pay for the salaries of basketball players who bring him so much wealth, power and prestige?

So if you are just arriving home today from Arison's disgusting & disabled cruise ship after another cruise-from-hell, whatever you do, don't ask Micky for a free Heat ticket or a free cruise. He's too busy hanging with Beyonce' to even consider such a request.        

Carnival Cruise CEO Arison Pockets $90,000,000

Miami's Daily Business Review reports today that Micky Arison paid himself a "special year-end dividend" of $90,000,000. Yes, that's 90 million dollars.

Cruise CEO Arison is not the only executive in Florida lining his pockets, as the Review states that other executives in Florida are paying themselves dividends in the range of $250,000 to around $20,000,000. The newspaper states that the whopper of a dividend was probably paid due to expectations that federal tax rates will jump next year. I suppose that's called the "Romney-didn't-win-dividend."

Arison is already by far the richest person in Florida with a net worth of many billions of dollars. The last time I checked it was over $4,000,000,000, or maybe it was $7,000,000,000. I forget. What's an extra billion or two?

Costa Concordia - Micky ArisonI was thinking of entitling this blog "Micky Arison is a fat greedy pig" but at least one journalist already called him that over a decade ago. So I'll keep what I'm thinking to myself.

But, I have to add that it must be something to be the CEO of a foreign corporation that pays no U.S. federal taxes and owns a $600,000,000 cruise ship which sank (the Concordia operated by subsidiary Costa) and killed 32 people and at the end of the year you pay yourself an additional $90,000,000. Yes, the disaster caused some lost revenue for Carnival for a few months. But by the end of the year, Carnival profits are higher than ever. 32 dead customers and crew are not a problem if you keep them from filing suit in the U.S. 

While Arison pays himself a dividend of $90,000,000, he offered the families of the dead and traumatized Concordia passengers $15,000 each. 

When I think of Arison paying himself an extra $90,000.000, I also think of the 150 waiters from India who worked for P&O Cruises (another Carnival subsidiary) who were fired earlier this year at the instructions of Carnival's executives after they went on strike for about an hour in Seattle over low pay and the non-payment of tips. There are now 150 families struggling in India because Carnival made an example of them to show what happens if crew members in Carnival's fleet of 100 cruise ships complain about low pay.

Earlier this week, Arison's cruise line ignited controversy by issuing a last minute edict that passengers who bought tickets on Carnival's drag queen cruise would not be permitted to dress in drag in order to avoid offending "family values." When a boycott was threatened that might result in Carnival losing millions from the offended LGBT community, Carnival reconsidered and lifted the ban on dressing drag.

Always following the money, Arison obviously thought that paying himself a $90,000,000 dividend was not a drag either.   

I wonder what Arison will do with the extra $90,000,000?  Raise wages for his loyal employees on his cruise ships? Invest in a health clinic in India for Carnival crew? Donate the money to a charity for sick seafarers?  Ha. That's something Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would do.  

Read some of our other articles about CEO Arison and judge for yourself. 

Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires    

Breaking News: Carnival Cruise Lines Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Labor, Wage, Safety and Environmental Regulations

Is Carnival's Mickey Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

Consider leaving a comment below or on our facebook page.

Does Carnival Pay Its Fair Share of Taxes? Controversy Erupts At Carnival Annual Meeting

Carnival Cruise - TaxesCarnival held its annual meeting this morning at a hotel on Miami Beach. But today was different from the usually dull, self-serving pontificating by cruise line executives when a group demanding that Carnival pay its fair share of taxes appeared on the scene.

An organization called "1Miami" challenged Carnival and its CEO Micky Arison to pay their "fair share" of taxes.  Their presence caused an uproar with shareholders yelling at the protesters to be quiet and CEO Arison apologizing for the clamor.

Cruise lines avoidance of taxes is one of my favor topics.  Cruise lines like Carnival are registered in Panama to escape U.S. taxes.  According to the New York Times, Carnival paid taxes of only 1.1 percent of their $11.3 billion in profits over the last five years.  The issue is a hot one after Senator Rockefeller grilled cruise line executives at a Senate hearing last month why cruise lines use some 40 federal agencies yet avoid all U.S. taxes by registering their businesses and ships in places like Liberia and the Bahamas.

Micky Arison - Carnival - TaxesThis is a story I have written about a lot: Is Micky Arison A Greedy Corporate Pig?   Nothing subtle here.

You can also check out some other articles No Taxes - The Cruise Line's Dirty Little Secret or Your Tax Dollars at Work - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong On Cruises

The "controversy" was caused by the 1Miami grass roots organization simply asking Carnival to pay its fair share of taxes and help keep Miami afloat.

The Miami Herald reported Carnival's claim that it pays "head taxes" to ports around the world.  But this is hardly true; its the passengers who pay the port taxes.  Carnival just acts as a middle man. The Herald also writes that CEO Arison found the tax questions "insulting."  

Ah, a raw nerve.  Arison is very touchy about the issue of taxes. This is probably because he is the richest person in Florida.  And probably because of some slick and embarrassing tax maneuvering by his father, Ted Arison.    

Carnival was created by the senior Arison in the 1960's.  He raked in tens of billions of dollars from tax paying U.S. passengers, exploited the hell out of Caribbean crew members, and lived the good life in Miami. But he registered his Miami-based cruise line and his cruise ships in Panama to avoid U.S. taxes. In Micky Arison  - Mylin IV1990, he abandoned Miami, denounced his U.S. citizenship, and returned to Israel with his billions in a ploy to avoid estate and inheritance taxes.

Carnival should have seen the protesters coming from a mile away.  

Earlier in the week the 1Miami group protested about Carnival's non-payment of taxes while in small boats next to Arison's super yacht, the 200 foot Feadship Mylin IV, at the Miami Beach marina.

You can watch the video here.

Arison's personal yacht, by the way, is registered in the Cayman Islands - to avoid taxes.  

Carnival's @MickyArison is on Twitter, But How Long will He Stay?

The big news this week in cruise ship social media 2.0 is that no one other than Carnival's CEO Micky Arison just joined Twitter.  You can check out his tweets at @MickyArison.   He has received a warm welcome mostly by cruise fanatics and Miami Heat fans. 

It will be interesting to see if CEO Arison sticks around and really engages on Twitter. He has 4,800 followers.  So far he has Mark Cuban - Twitterfollowed pretty much just his cruise lines, basketball players and celebrities on Twitter. 

Speaking of CEOs and pro basketball, Mr. Arison's nemesis Dallas Maverick's Mark Cuban has over 637,000 followers on his Twitter account @mcuban, whose in-your-face avatar shows him holding the NBA trophy, smoking a cigar.    Don't let him trash talk you Micky!

When the week started, I could not help but think it only a matter of time that a dissatisfied Carnival customer began a campaign of tweeting Mr. Arison about an unpleasant cruise.  I wondered how this would turn out and whether Arison would ignore the passenger.

Sure enough a very unhappy disabled passenger by the Twitter name @MyLadyGuinevere began tweeting about a horrific cruise experience.  She suffered an asthma attack caused by a smoke filled stateroom.  Carnival's shipboard employees mocked her for using a wheelchair.  She suffered from food poisoning.  Carnival then inadvertently double charged for everything, and  ignored her when she complained.  She inundated the Carnival CEO with a dozen tweets like: 

"@MickyArison - Your cruise line made me ill, mocked me for my disability, doublecharged me and wiped out my bank account . . ."  

You can read about the debacle in an article in the Consumerist entitled Carnival Cruise Becomes Vacation Nightmare.

After a day of tweets, it looks like the Carnival guest now has high praises for Micky Arison - TwitterCarnival and Mr. Arison.  Her last tweets suggest that everything has been worked out: " A very, very nice person by the name of Alicia contacted us. We now understand things better . . . and feel like we were listened to. Thank you. We really appreciated it."  @MyLadyGuinevere deleted all of her complaints on Twitter and promised to update her story on the Consumerist article.

Did CEO Arison come to the guest's rescue?  Or was this a case where the Carnival customer support team realized that their CEO's debut on Twitter was being spoiled and they gave the guest some extra attention?  Not sure.  But the bottom line is that the dispute is resolved and eveyone seems happy.

Will Mr. Arison stick around on Twitter?  I hope so, for no other reason than I'd like to see him update his Twitter avatar at the end of the NBA playoffs with a photo of him holding the NBA trophy and smoking a cigar on one of his cruise ships.     

Is Carnival's Mickey Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

Today the Move On organization published an article entitled "Pay Your Taxes?  These Ten Companies Didn't."   The article points out that while most of us U.S. taxpayers struggle to pay our fair share of taxes, there are certain corporations which have tax avoidance down to an art. 

The list is complied by Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from the state of Vermont.  His top 10 corporate freeloaders includes cruise giant Carnival corporation, which incorporated itself in Panama in the 1960s.  Ever since then, it has flown the flag of that country to avoid U.S. taxes, as well as to skirt U.S. safety regulations and wage and labor laws.

I have written about Carnival's extraordinary ability to avoid literally billions in U.S. taxes over the Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise Line - Rich - Tax Avoidanceyears.  Is paying virtually no taxes vital to the survival of the cruise line?  Hardly, considering that its CEO Mickey Arison (photo circa 2000) is worth billions and billions.  Arison is the richest person in Florida today.  So why does he pay his injured and ill crew members slave wages?  He may not be the only cruise executive billionaire - take a moment and read Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires - but he certainly is the fattest.

Arison owns the Miami Heat and is paying basketball stars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, but he treats his crew employees like dog crap.

I am hardly Arison's harshest critic.  Ten years ago journalist Jim DeFede of the Miami New Times wrote a series of articles in which he asked the question "Is Mickey A Greedy Corporate Pig?"  DeFede also wrote some of my favorites "The Deep Blue Greed - The Arison Clan Built Carnival into a Money Machine by Cleverly Avoiding Tax Laws" and "Ten Questions for Micky."

DeFede left the Miami New Times long ago, and we don't have his blunt questions to consider today.  Over the past decade Arison's personal worth increased from $1,700,000,000 to over $4,100,000,000 last year, while Arison convinced the city of Miami to build him two basketball arenas in the process.

So I'll ask the same question DeFede asked 10 years ago: Is Mickey a Greedy Corporate Pig?

In arriving at your answer, consider that Carnival pays disabled crew members receiving medical treatment in their home countries a daily stipend of only $12 and expects them to find lodging and pay for their food and living expenses.  You can't buy a beer and a hot dog at the Miami Heat game for $12 . . .  

 

Photo:  AP/Wide World Photo via Miami New Times
 

Governor Parnell Gets Punked

Stein Kruse Scold Alaskan Governor ParnellEarlier this week, I attended the "Cruise Shipping Miami" convention here in Miami and reported on the threats against Alaska's Governor Parnell leveled by Holland American Lines' CEO Stein Kruse to pull HAL cruise ships from Alaska. (photo courtesy Travel Agent Central)

As we all know, HAL is wholly owned by Carnival and Kruse reports directly to Carnival CEO and multi-billionaire Mickey Arison.  Mickey has been threatening Alaska ever since the state's voters passed legislation to protect its waters from major polluters like HAL, Princess Cruises and other subsidiaries of Carnival who cruise to Alaska.       

But the issue is not the $50 head tax, as Carnival's lackeys argue.  Its the fact that Alaska has serious environmental regulations which the cruise industry wants to avoid. 

Did the cruise industry's tongue lashing and finger pointing work?  Newspapers like the Alaska Daily News and the Alaska Journal are now reporting that the Governor now wants to reduce the cruise head tax by 25% and make Alaska more conducive to attracting cruise ships.  

In exchange for lower taxes, the cruise industry would drop its lawsuit to repeal the tax and send Alaska Governor Parnell - I promise to do what the cruise lines tell me to do more ships to Alaska. 

The fact that these huge cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuels and discharge massive amount of ammonium, phosphorus, and fecal matter into Alaskan waters was probably not a topic of conversation when Governor Parnell (right) was chatting  with the cruise line executives. 

Alaskan voters previously voted in favor of the cruise tax to protect its waters.  Who did Governor Parnell pledge his allegiance to?  The citizens of Alaska, or the Miami-based cruise lines?  

Wiggling out of Alaska's laws will be the cruise industry's next step.  Cruise lines don't like to be regulated, especially where Alaska's environmental regulations cause the cruise industry to spend money on state-of-the-art wastewater technology.

 

Credits:

Cruise line executives       Travel Agent Central

Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires

Royal Caribbean - Crew Member - $545 a Month A fascinating article appeared in USA Today's Cruise Blog by Gene Sloan - "Titans of the Cruise Industry See Their Net Worth Soar."

This is an amazing article reporting on the Forbes 400 richest people in the U.S., which includes Carnival fat cat billionaires Mickey Arison, Royal Caribbean's Pritzker family, and entrepreneur Leon Black whose private equity firm controls Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

The article which is re-printed in its entirety below is an insight into how to create a fortune by convincing tax paying Americans to turn over their hard earned money to foreign incorporated, non-tax paying companies operating foreign flagged cruise ships. 

The phenomenon is of particular interest to me because I represent the backbone of the cruise industry - crewmembers like Ismael Richards (photograph above) who worked for 14 years - over 350 hours a month never making more than $545 a month until his back failed and he was abandoned by the cruise line.

Mr. Richards found himself with an one-way ticket back to St. Vincent, disabled, with no 401(k) plan, no pension, no job prospects, no social security and no social safety network.

So here is the article about cruise line billionaires, for your prurient interests:  

"The past year has been a good one to be a titan of the cruise industry. Just ask Micky Arison Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise Line - Billionaire (photograph right).

A year ago, as cruise stocks were plunging along with the economy, wealth watcher Forbes was pegging the Carnival mogul's net worth at just $2.9 billion -- a multi-year low. But with the industry on the rebound, Arison's fortunes once again are on the rise.

Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires for 2010, out late Wednesday, puts Arison's net worth at $4.4 billion, placing him at No. 189 on the magazine's closely-watched list. A year ago he ranked at No. 221.

Arison still has a long way to go to reach his former glory. As recently as four years ago, when the cruise business was riding high, Arison's hefty stake in Carnival had landed him among the 100 richest people in the world. In 2006, Forbes estimated Arison's net worth at more than $6 billion, putting him at No. 94 on the list. He ranked at No. 129 in 2007 and No. 189 in 2008.

Micky Arison isn't the only Arison whose fortunes are rebounding. Another Carnival heir, Shari Arison, is now worth $3.4 billion, up from $2.7 billion a year ago, according to Forbes. Alas, Shari Arison's rising wealth isn't enough to keep her in place in the rankings, where she has dropped to No. 277 from No. 234 in 2009. Four years ago she was within striking distance of the Top 100 at 109.

Another would-be cruise mogul, Leon Black (photograph below, left), also is doing better. The self-made financier who controls Apollo Management -- the private equity firm that in turn controls Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven seas Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line  -- almost didn't make Leon Black - Norwegian Cruise Line - billionairethe Forbes list last year as his net worth plunged to just $1.1 billion. But this year he's on the rebound with a net worth that Forbes pegs at $2.5 billion. He now ranks No. 277 on the list, up from No. 647 a year ago.

Also faring better are the many members of the Pritzker family of Chicago who collectively own a sizable chunk of Royal Caribbean.  Forbes says Thomas Pritzker is now worth $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion a year ago (though his ranking on the list has fallen to No. 616 from No. 559 in 2009). Jay Robert Pritzker, Anthony Pritzker and Penny Pritzker, with $1.4 billion a piece, are next at No. 721, followed by a half dozen more Pritzkers who tie at No. 773."

 

 

Credits:

Ishmael Richards                 Jim Walker's Flickr photostream

Mickey Arison                         Business Week

Leon Black                             Adam Berry / Bloomberg / Lardov