The New York Times profiles Philip B. Schwab, an enigmatic man who once controlled seven banks, a casino in Reno and a big chunk of Hilton Head Island. He once operated the largest demolition company in the country and is a legend in what he calls “the wrecking business.” As a group, the demolition men are good at tacking away from trouble, setting up shop under new names, wriggling through loopholes and finding more work, often on government jobs.
Schwab has developed an aversion to publicity and public records. Several years ago, when New York City officials served a subpoena on what they called one of his front companies, they were told it did not keep records. No payroll records. No bank records. No tax records. No contracts. Nothing. “Every time I opened a bank account, the government came and took my money,” said Schwab, who for decades has not had an account in his own name.