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Abusive Tax Shelters

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Malta’s Ongoing Corruption Scandal Renews Focus on Money Laundering

Posted  12/5/19
By Sarah “Poppy” Alexander
Money Hanging on a Clothes Line
The tragic murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 sparked international outrage—and the fear that nothing would be done to discover who was behind her death.  This turns out not to be the case.  After years of persistence from her family and journalist community, Yorgen Fenech, a gambling, real estate, and energy mogul, was arrested on November 20 for complicity in her murder.  He has...

July 19, 2019

For not disclosing additional U.S. accounts when a 2015 non-prosecution agreement was signed with the DOJ, Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA, Ltd. (Bonhôte) of Switzerland has signed an addendum, agreeing to pay an additional $1.2 million penalty on top of its $624,000 share of an earlier penalty against 80 Swiss banks totaling $1.36 billion.  The DOJ had executed non-prosecution agreements with the banks in 2015 and 2016 to resolve potential criminal liabilities relating to offshore banking services.  DOJ

Legal Sports Betting Is Leading to Serious Fraud Risks

Posted  05/31/19
man holding cell phone to place sports bet
With the NBA finals upon us, you may be thinking putting down some cash on one team or the other. Thanks to a Supreme Court decision last year, your state may even allow such bets. And no wonder. Illegal sports betting is a gigantic industry—estimated at $150 billion a year, it eclipses the $5 billion legally gambled in Nevada. Much of that money goes into the hands of mafia interests, who increasingly use online...

April 26, 2019

A permanent injunction has been issued barring Michael L. Meyer from in any way marketing the "Ultimate Tax Plan," also referred to as Charitable LLC or Charitable Limited Partnership, or otherwise preparing federal tax returns or advising taxpayers on charitable contributions.  Meyer had sold his bogus tax scheme with claims that taxpayers could reduce taxes by purportedly transferring property to an entity and purportedly donating their interest in the entity to a charity, while retaining complete control over the assets.  Meyer appraised the “donations,” prepared tax forms for participants to claim unwarranted deductions, and controlled the charities used to perpetuate the scheme.  The government alleged that the scheme deprived the U.S. of at least $35 million in tax revenue.  DOJ

April 25, 2019

Zurich Life Insurance Company Ltd and Zurich International Life Limited have entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to a penalty of $5.115 million to resolve allegations that it knew some of its U.S. taxpayer customers were using certain Zurich policies in order to evade U.S. taxes and reporting requirements.  Under applicable law, the increase of the principal in the policies was subject to U.S. taxation, and the policies were required to be disclosed to the IRS, but Zurich knew or should have known that the policies were undeclared.   Zurich reported its finding of these accounts to the government as part of the DOJ Swiss Bank Program.  DOJ

December 19, 2018

The U.S. has filed a complaint to bar EcoVest Capital, Inc. and associated individuals from continued activities related to the defendants' allegedly abusive conservation easement syndication tax scheme.  As set forth in the complaint, taxpayers may take a "qualified conservation contribution" deduction equivalent to the fair market value of a conservation easement, but only if certain requirements with respect to the donation of an interest in property for conservation purposes are satisfied. The defendants allegedly have organized, promoted, and sold ownership interests in at least 96 sham “conservation easement syndicates” which lack economic substance.  The syndicates have reported over $2 billion in improper tax deductions, resulting in hundreds of millions in tax underpayments.   DOJ

Constantine Cannon Attorneys Eric Havian and Michael Ronickher Published in Law360 on the Need for Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Rewards

Posted  12/12/18
In the wake of anti-money laundering enforcement activity spurred by the Panama Papers, Constantine Cannon attorneys Eric Havian and Michael Ronickher published an article in Law360 on why we need an anti-money laundering whistleblower program. Havian and Ronickher argue for a new, DOJ-led whistleblower program to close the “large enforcement gap” left open by the existing IRS and SEC programs: “Domestic law...

December 4, 2018

In connection with their work for the "Panama Papers" law firm of Mossack Fonseca & Co. and its affiliates, Ramses Owens, Dirk Brauer, Richard Gaffey, and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz have been indicted for actions related to the firm's efforts to circumvent U.S. tax laws on behalf of their clients through the use of offshore accounts and shell companies which Mossack Fonseca created.  The defendants then used an alleged “playbook” to repatriate un-taxed money into the U.S. banking system. The defendants are charged with wire fraud, tax fraud, and money laundering, among other offenses. In the last two months, three of the defendants have been arrested; Ramses Owens remains at large.  DOJ

Money Laundering Watch: Will More Chickens Come Home to Roost Following Deutsche Bank Raid?

Posted  11/30/18
The Panama Papers fallout continues with a massive early morning raid on Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. Some 170 officers searched for evidence of the bank’s role in over $350m worth of suspected money-laundering through organizations in the British Virgin Islands. Deutsche Bank confirms the investigation is related to the Panama Papers: the April 2016 release of over 11 million files about...

November 19, 2018

Teymour Khoubian of Beverly Hills, California, has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns which concealed offshore accounts he held and earned income from.  Khoubian had declined to disclose the accounts under the IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.  As part of his guilty plea, Khoubian agreed to a penalty of $7.7 million and an additional $612,310 in restitution to the IRS. Khoubian faces a prison sentence of three years.  DOJ
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