Peter Amrein, a former banker at a Swiss asset management firm, pleaded guilty last month to a tax conspiracy charge in the Southern District of New York, acknowledging his responsibility for helping U.S. taxpayers hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service and to evade U.S. taxes on the income earned in those accounts.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, Amrein pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, to evade federal income taxes and to file false federal income tax returns. According to the government allegations, Amrein worked as a client advisor at a Swiss bank and, later, as an asset manager at a Swiss asset management firm). In those roles, between 1998 and 2012, Amrein helped U.S. taxpayers evade taxes and hide millions of dollars in undeclared accounts at various Swiss banks Amrein worked with an attorney in Zurich, to establish sham foreign foundations, in such countries as Liechtenstein or Panama, in order to conceal his clients U.S. identity and ownership of these accounts from the IRS.
In 2008, after it became publicly known that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating UBS, Amrein searched for various new Swiss banks to transfer money of his U.S. clients. For some of his clients, Amrein helped to send funds back to the United States and to other foreign jurisdictions in ways that were designed to avoid detection of U.S. authorities. For example, Amrein instructed a client advisor at one Swiss bank to liquidate one of the U.S. account holder’s account by sending checks in amounts smaller than $9,900 to the beneficial owner’s bank in the U.S. On another occasion, Amrein instructed the Swiss Bank to transfer the $2.4 million balance of one of the accounts to another account controlled by the U.S. taxpayer in Beliz. Moreover, as late as 2011, Amrein continued to look for other Swiss banks that were still willing to open undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayers.
Amrein faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and his sentencing is scheduled for July 2015.