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Guilty plea entered in tax evasion case

In a tax crime case with international implications, a Swiss lawyer has pleaded guilty in a major U.S. tax evasion case. The lawyer, 57, has both United States and Swiss citizenship. He confessed to helping many clients in the United States avoid paying U.S. taxes. He did so by opening several bank accounts in Switzerland, using entities specifically formed for U.S. citizens wanting to evade taxes.

By doing so, he used those offshore accounts to hide millions of dollars for his U.S. clients. Legally, this is considered conspiracy to commit tax fraud, which is the charge he pleaded guilty to in federal court. In a statement, the lawyer said he knew his conduct was wrong and apologized for it. He signed a plea agreement with the U.S. government, which guarantees his full cooperation in the case. He will also forfeit all fees that he earned from the illegal transactions.

The attorney has been a partner in a Swiss law firm, and licensed to practice in New York as well. This positioned him to work with U.S. clients looking to evade taxes by hiding their money offshore, and to set up the accounts in his native Switzerland.

The indictment against him said that he and a partner, the head of a private banking firm, had conspired to hide U.S. taxpayer money in Swiss accounts between 2000 and 2012. According to the indictment, 44 percent of the assets managed by the private banking firm in Switzerland are owned by U.S. clients. The firm's business had boomed as U.S. customers left other Swiss banks that were already under investigation for tax fraud matters. One of those other banks wound up having to pay the U.S. government $780 million in 2009, illustrating the scope of the funds being hidden.

Another of the banks paid $74 million, admitted helping citizens of the U.S. evade taxes, and closed down. A dozen other banks in Switzerland are under investigation, with many claiming that Swiss privacy laws make it difficult for them to comply.

The Swiss government has pledged cooperation, as U.S. authorities say they may seek penalties of up to $10 billion for all the Swiss banks involved combined.

Tax crime legal cases can be multifaceted. A Florida attorney who has experience with tax crime issues can work to mitigate the consequences of charges against Florida residents.


Source: 
Reuters, "Swiss lawyer pleads guilty in U.S. evasion case" Nate Raymond, Aug. 16, 2013

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