Offshore Tax Compliance Update – Recent IRS Tax Prosecutions
The following convictions represent recent successful prosecutions by the Department of Justice, Tax Division and reinforce the Government’s commitment to ferret out tax cheats, wherever they may be located.
On October 7, 2016 a Michigan business man and owner of several mining related businesses, pleaded guilty to concealing $2.6 million held in a Swiss bank account.
According to the facts set forth in the plea agreement, the defendant transferred $2.6 million from his parents trust account to a bank account at Credit Suisse. In order to conceal the account from IRS detection, the defendant set up Hong Kong Company and had the Credit Suisse account held in the company name. The Hong Kong Company’s only business purpose was to act as the named account holder. The defendant falsely states on his 2008-2012 federal income tax returns that he had no interest in a foreign financial account and also failed to report the income from the Credit Suisse account. To exacerbate matters, in 2010 the defendant filed an amended tax return for the tax year 2008. Once again, the defendant failed to report the income generated in 2008 from the Credit Suisse account.https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/michigan-business-owner-pleads-guilty-concealing-swiss-bank-account
On September 28, 2016, a New York City resident pleaded guilty to using a sham foreign entity and numbered accounts in Switzerland and Israel in order to evade taxes.
From 1987 to 2008 the defendant maintained a number of undeclared foreign financial accounts and accounts at UBS held in the name of Contactus Partnership Associated, SA (Contactus) a sham entity organized in the British Virgin Islands.In 2008 the defendant closed the UBS accounts and transferred the assets to a newly opened account at Clariden Leu. The newly opened account was held in the name Contactus.
Shortly thereafter the defendant closed the account at Clariden Leu and transferred the assets to a newly opened Swiss bank account in the name of the same sham entity. The defendant was successful in getting the Swiss Bank to falsely record the defendant’s Belgian cousin as the owner of the assets in the Contactus account. Six months later the defendant closed the Contactus account at the Swiss Bank and transferred the assets to a newly opened bank account in Israel held in the name of a different cousin.From 2005-2011 the defendant also maintained an undeclared account at Bank Leumi in Israel under the name of a non-resident alien, residing outside of the United States.
In 2010 the defendant was able to obtain an Israeli Identity Card. The defendant then opened an account in his own name at Bank Leumi, claiming that the defendant resided in the United Kingdom. He also signed a document under penalty of perjury affirming that he was not a U.S. Citizen.
Subsequently, the defendant repatriated the funds from his undeclared accounts to the United States. In order to carry out the scheme, the defendant had his attorney draw up a sham loan agreement between the defendant and Contactus and then caused the funds to be transferred to his attorney escrow account.
The defendant filed fraudulent federal and New York State tax returns by deliberately omitting the income from the foreign financial accounts and by failing to pay income taxes on the omitted income. As a result, the defendant was able to evade paying $653,580 in federal income tax for the tax years 2002-2005 and 2007-2010.
The defendant also failed to report his ownership and control of his foreign financial accounts on FinCen Form 114 despite being advised by an accounting firm that he had an obligation to file FinCen Form 114 and that failure to do so could result in civil and criminal penalties being imposed. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-york-city-resident-pleads-guilty-using-sham-foreign-entity-and-secret-foreign-accounts
On September 21, 2016 a Weston Connecticut man pleaded guilty to concealing over 1.5 million in income from an undeclared foreign financial account.
According to the DOJ press release, the defendant conspired with another individual in the United States and others to conceal his assets and income. The scheme was designed to evade paying income tax derived from the sale of duty free alcohol and tobacco products. The defendant used a sham entity, Centennial Group, a registered Panamanian corporation to buy and sell duty free products. In order to carry out the scheme, the defendant arranged to have alcohol shipped through a custom bonded warehouse in the Foreign Trade zone in Southern Florida. The tobacco products passed through a customs bonded warehouse in North Bergen, New Jersey. In total, the defendant was able to transfer $1,627,832 to his undeclared bank account in Panama. The defendant repatriated some of the proceeds from his Panamanian account for the purchase of a Mercedes and to pay $19,000 in interior design goods. The defendant failed to report the income earned on his Panamanian account and also failed to file an FBAR for the relevant tax years. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/connecticut-man-pleads-guilty-concealing-income-undeclared-panamanian-bank-account
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo reaffirmed that “the Department of the Treasury will: “continue to vigorously pursue and prosecuted those who conceal their assets and income in offshore accounts in an effort to evade paying their fair share of taxes.”
The above prosecutions have common some common elements including:
- The establishment of a Foreign Financial Account.
- The creation of a sham entity for purposes of becoming the named account holder of the Foreign Financial Account.
- Actions taken by the true account holder to conceal the existence of the Foreign Financial Account as well as the income generated from the account.
©2016 Anthony N. Verni, Attorney at Law, Certified Public Accountant