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Tax Enforcement Actions

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the United States agency with primary responsibility for enforcing federal tax laws, working with the Department of Justice. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of the federal tax laws can submit a claim to the IRS under the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program, and may be eligible to receive a monetary reward.

Below are summaries of recently-announced settlements or successful prosecutions by the IRS or DOJ. If you believe you have information about fraud or wrongful conduct which could give  rise to a claim under the IRS Whistleblower Reward Program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

May 14, 2021

Dusko Bruer, who owned and operated an agricultural machinery company, was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution following his conviction on tax evasion charges.  Between 2003 and 2009, Bruer's company did not file or pay either corporate or employment taxes.  Bruer was not paid a salary; instead, he used funds from corporate bank accounts for personal expenses.  Bruer also failed to report foreign bank accounts that he owned and controlled, and to which he transferred millions of dollars between at last 2006 and 2015.   DOJ

May 14, 2021

Swiss insurance company Swiss Life Holding AG and related entities will pay $77 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement admitting that they conspired with U.S. taxpayers to  conceal more than $1.452 billion in assets and income in offshore insurance policies and related policy investment accounts.  From 2005 to 2014, Swiss Life maintained approximately 1,608 Private Placement Life Insurance policies known as “insurance wrappers,” with associated policy investment accounts with Swiss Life entities identified as the owner, allowing U.S. taxpayers to hide undeclared assets and income and evade taxes.  Beginning in 2008, Swiss Life specifically marketed such policies to taxpayers withdrawing assets from UBS and other Swiss banks in response to offshore tax enforcement efforts aimed at those bank.  DOJ; USAO SDNY

May 6, 2021

Spirits, beer, and wine produce the LeVecke Corporation agreed to pay almost $29 million in compromise of claims by the Department of Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau alleging violations of the Internal Revenue Code, including failure to timely file tax returns and failure to timely file and/or pay excise tax. TTB

March 16, 2021

Southern California brewer Stone Brewing Co., LLC, will pay $1.8 million to resolve allegations that the brewery underpaid excise taxes by misapplying tax rates, and failed to timely file excise tax returns and related operational reports. TTB

March 11, 2021

Swiss bank Rahn+Bodmer Co. will pay $22 million to resolve allegations that it conspired with U.S. customers to evade their U.S. tax obligations by concealing their ownership and control of up to $550 million in undeclared funds held in R+B accounts.  The bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and will cooperate with further investigations, including of U.S. accountholders.  DOJ

October 15, 2020

Robert F. Smith, who formed and beneficially owned Belize entity the Excelsior Trust and Nevis entity Flash Holdings, has entered into a non-prosecution agreement, agreeing to pay $139 million, to resolve claims that between 2000 and 2015 he unlawfully used the offshore entities and their offshore bank accounts to conceal income earned by him on private equity investments and evade millions in taxes.  Using the offshore trust accounts, Smith willfully did not report to the IRS over $200 million of partnership income.  In addition, he unlawfully failed to report his ownership of foreign bank accounts in BVI and Switzerland.  The $139 million settlement consists of $56 million in taxes and penalties on unreported income and $82 million in penalties stemming from his failure to report his offshore bank accounts.  In addition, Smith agreed to abandon a $182 million refund claim based on alleged charitable contributions in 2018 and 2019.  DOJ; USAO ND Cal

October 10, 2020

The owners of Keystone Biofuels Inc., Ben Wootton and Race Miner, were sentenced to approximately 5.5 years imprisonment each and they and Keystone were ordered to pay restitution and fines totaling $9.23 million to the IRS and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection following their convictions at trial for charges relating to their renewable fuels scam.  The defendants falsely claimed that they were able to produce biodiesel that permitted them to create renewable fuel credits known as RINs; then then sold both the non-qualifying fuel and the fraudulently-created RINs.  In addition, Keystone claimed federal tax refunds under the IRS Biofuel Mixture Credit program, creating false books and records to conceal the non-qualifying, and in some cases non-existent, fuel.  DOJ

October 9, 2020

Steve Choi, who owned and operated companies that provided food services in federal government buildings in the D.C. area, was sentenced to nearly two years in prison and ordered to pay over $11 million in restitution following his guilty plea on tax charges.  The government alleged that Choi failed to pay over $10 million in employment and sales taxes, despite withholding more than $4.4 million in employment taxes from employee checks and charging sales taxes to customers.  DOJ

October 6, 2020

Financial services firm Strachans SA, now Strachans SA in Liquidation, pleaded guilty to charges that it conspired with U.S. taxpayers and others to enable the taxpayers to conceal income and assets in offshore accounts.  Strachans services included the formation of trusts and offshore companies, management of undeclared assets held by nominee sham entities, and the facilitation of cash withdrawals by U.S. clients from the undeclared offshore entities through fake loans, sham consultancy agreements, dummy invoicing, and other methods.  Strachans, which voluntarily disclosed its conduct to the IRS in 2014, will pay a fine of $500,000DOJ

August 26, 2020

LA-based clothing company Ambiance Apparel and its owner Sang Bum “Ed” Noh have pleaded guilty to customs violations and tax offenses, agreeing to pay a total of $118 million, which includes $36 million in previously-seized cash.  Defendants evaded import tariffs by colluding with Asian manufacturers for the submission of invoices to CBP that fraudulently understated the value of imported clothing. The fraudulent invoices indicated payment terms by letter of credit; a second invoice for the balance of the actual price was paid by defendants by wire transfer. In less than five years, Ambiance undervalued imports by about $82.6 million and failed to pay more than $17.1 million in tariffs. In addition, defendants failed to properly report cash transactions and maintained a second set of books for cash transactions, evading nearly $17 million in taxes.  The company will be placed on probation for five years and will be ordered to undertake specific compliance procedures.  USAO CD Cal
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