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Offshore Bank Accounts in Singapore Are Under the Watchful Eye of the U.S. Government

Offshore Account Update

Posted in on May 13, 2016

Swiss banks used to be a good place for people to put their money offshore without worrying about the U.S. government finding out about it. This was because Switzerland had strong banking privacy laws.

Now, however, the U.S. has been aggressively going after banks in Switzerland and many banks have chosen to participate in the Swiss Bank Program, which provides amnesty from criminal prosecution and reduced penalties if the bank pays a fine and turns over account details from U.S.-affiliated individuals.

More than 80 banks have participated in the Swiss Bank Program, paying around $5 billion to the U.S. government and turning over account info on countless accountholders.  Switzerland is no longer a safe place to keep funds offshore.

Now, the U.S. government appears to be trying to get details on accountholders who have money offshore in banks in Singapore. If you have your investments in a Singapore bank and are not fully in compliance with all IRS requirements related to those accounts, you could find your information provided to the IRS soon.

This could cause serious consequences. Before you end up under investigation, you may wish to speak with a New Jersey tax evasion attorney about limiting your penalties and avoiding criminal prosecution through participation in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

IRS Finding Ways to Go After Singapore Banks

Banks in Singapore prohibit the release of accountholder information without permission from the owners of the accounts. This makes it difficult for the IRS to get details it needs about taxpayers. Now, however, the IRS has sued Swiss Bank UBS to try to get account records for a man who lives in China and who has an account in Singapore.

The IRS is basically claiming UBS has subjected itself to U.S. jurisdiction and thus has to produce the records. When UBS refused and cited Singapore's banking privacy laws, the IRS asked a Miami federal judge to compel UBS to turn over the records spanning 2001 to 2011.

The IRS is essentially setting up a conflict between a court order to turn over records and Singapore's banking privacy laws. In a filing with the court, the IRS stated: “Even if Singapore’s bank secrecy laws, as UBS contends, precludes disclosure of the summoned bank records relating or pertaining to Hsiaw’s Singapore account(s), international comity requires that the records be disclosed.”

Singapore had previously lifted privacy rules in situations where the privacy rules were used to shield criminal activities and in response to requests from foreign governments. Those familiar with Singapore privacy laws suggest banking information will be shared through established channels. 

If the IRS is able to summon offshore records from Singapore accounts and get those records despite Singapore's laws protecting banking privacy, this will open the door to the IRS aggressively going after U.S.-affiliated accountholders with undeclared funds in Singapore.

Before you come under investigation and are no longer eligible to voluntarily disclose your accounts under the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, you should talk with Kevin Thorn about your options.


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