On February 23, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service announced that four Swiss bankers, all working at some point for Credit Suisse Group, were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia and charged with conspiring with other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States.
An indictment identified the four bankers as Marco Parenti Adami of Italy, Emanuel Agustino, Michele Bergantino and Roger Schaerer (all three of Switzerland). It was not clear if any were under arrest or even in the U.S.
The indictment said they worked for “one of the biggest banks in Switzerland and largest wealth managers in the world. ” Although the document did not specifically identify the bank, calling it only “international bank”, internet research of the names of the four indicted bankers indicated links with Credit Suisse. A Credit Suisse spokesman in New York provided a short statement in response to the indictment: “We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation of these individuals. Credit Suisse is not a target of the investigation.”
According to the indictment, the defendants were in a conspiracy to help U.S. citizens avoid income taxes. The charges indicated that the bank serviced unreported foreign accounts at its New York office, and told account-holders to travel when necessary to Switzerland and the Bahamas. Other schemes mentioned in the indictment included limiting withdrawals to less than the mandatory reporting level of $10,000, using charge and debit cards from other countries, and keeping records overseas. The indictment also said that the indicted defendants “discouraged U.S. customers from disclosing their undeclared accounts through the Volunteer Disclosure Program” and then helped to move assets to other financial institutions in Switzerland and Hong Kong. Based on the indictment, much of the alleged tax evasion took place in Southern California, but the indictment also mentioned New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Miami.
On February 8, 2011, the IRS announced a new Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative for taxpayers with undisclosed offshore accounts. Pursuant to the terms of the program, those taxpayers who voluntarily come forward, disclose their hidden foreign accounts and cooperate with the IRS, will avoid criminal prosecution and pay reduced penalties.
If you have questions about tax issues related to foreign bank accounts, or the IRS Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, please contact Former IRS Tax Attorneys at Holtz Slavett & Drabkin at (310) 550-6200.
Copyright (c) 2011 Igor S. Drabkin. All Rights Reserved.