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Abusive Tax Shelters

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Pandora Papers Show the Value of Financial Transparency, the Critical Role of Whistleblowers – and the Need for Additional Regulation

Posted  10/8/21
This week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its partners began publicly reporting on the “Pandora Papers,” a trove of millions of leaked documents from firms around the world that help customers set up “offshore” accounts and shell companies designed to conceal financial truths.  The leaked documents, and the extensive reporting on the documents, sheds light on the murky world of...

August 3, 2021

Bermuda bank Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited will pay $5.6 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve charges that between 2001 and 2013 it assisted U.S.-taxpayer clients in opening and maintaining undeclared foreign bank accounts.  The bank has provided the government with approximately 386 unredacted client files.  USAO SDNY; IRS

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

Want to Fix the Trillion Dollar Tax Gap? How Whistleblowers Can Help

Posted  04/23/21
Earlier this month, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles P. Rettig testified before the Senate Finance Committee, addressing the 2021 filing season and the “21st Century IRS.”  At the hearing, Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) raised the topic of the tax gap, referring to the difference between the total taxes that are legally owed, and the total taxes that are paid by individuals and entities. ...

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

Top Ten Tax Recoveries of 2020

Posted  02/5/21
us cash with "taxes" sign on top
Tax fraud and tax evasion, unfortunately, continued apace last year.  Yet even in the face of waning tax resources, enforcement authorities chalked up some key wins in 2020. Criminal recoveries tend to dominate the headlines because many of the biggest tax recoveries are not public: the IRS scrupulously protects taxpayer privacy, and no announcements are made for civil tax recoveries.  Thus only those that result...

Sunshine State Local Elections Shine Light on How Dark Shell Company Data Can Be

Posted  11/18/20
By Sarah “Poppy” Alexander
top-secret-seal
Amidst the ongoing saga of the US national elections, Florida local elections may not have made much of a ripple.  But one small scandal in the Sunshine State reveals a lot about the ongoing problem the US has with shell corporations and their hidden ownership structures. The story is convoluted, as most shell company stories are.  A political donor, Proclivity, who had never donated money in Florida before,...

Catch of the Week: Texas-Sized Indictment for $2 Billion Tax Fraud

Posted  10/16/20
texas longhorn bull standing in open grass field
Everything sure is bigger in Texas.  Bigger hair, bigger churches, bigger stadiums, bigger ranches, and bigger sky.  Oh, and as of this week, bigger billionaires committing bigger frauds! On Thursday, federal prosecutors in California charged Robert T. Brockman, a Houston tech executive, with hiding $2 billion in income from the Internal Revenue Service.  True to Texas form, David L. Anderson, the U.S. attorney...

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 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
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