Space Entrepreneur Walt Anderson Denied Bail in Tax Case

WASHINGTON - Accused tax cheat Walt Anderson, the financier behind many long-shot commercial space ventures, was denied bail Thursday during his bond hearing and was ordered to remain in jail at least until his next court appearance two weeks from now.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan Kay ordered during the Thursday hearing that Anderson remain in detention until his next status hearing, tentatively set for March 17 or 18, according to Channing Phillips, principal assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

Government attorneys maintain that Anderson constitutes a flight risk, given his overseas holdings.

Anderson, 51, was arrested Feb. 26 on tax evasion charges as he stepped off a flight from London at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. He was charged in federal court Feb. 28 with evading federal and local taxes by hiding more than $450 million in income through offshore companies.

According to the 12-count federal indictment released Feb. 28, Anderson failed to pay more than $200 million he owed to the Internal Revenue Service and the District of Columbia for the years 1995 through 1999. If convicted of all charges, Anderson faces up to 80 years in prison.

Anderson is known to the space community as the moneyman behind such long shot space ventures as MirCorp and Rotary Rocket.

In 2000, Anderson put up more than $20 million in an effort to keep the Mir space station on orbit as a commercial platform after Russia under pressure from the United States announced it would crash the aging station into the ocean and focus on building the international space station. Anderson's investment kept Mir in space an additional year. During that time, MirCorp signed a contract with Los Angeles businessman Dennis Tito to fly to the Russian space station.

Tito never got the chance to visit Mir before it was steered into the ocean in March 2001, but the following year, over the initial objections of NASA, Russia flew Tito to the international space station for a week-long stay.

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Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.