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Offshore Account Info Continues to Be Turned Over to U.S. Authorities Under the Swiss Bank Program

Offshore Account Update

Posted on January 29, 2016 |

Luzerner Kantonalbank AG (Luzerner), Habib Bank AG Zurich (HBZ), Banque Heritage S.A. and Hyposwiss Private Bank Genève S.A. (Hyposwiss Geneva) are four foreign financial institutions that are among the latest banks to give U.S. taxing authorities information about customers with offshore accounts.  These banks are now added to the long list of financial institutions that have been willing to turn over details about their customers in order to avoid facing criminal prosecution.

Accountholders of these four financial institutions will find that their banks have provided sufficient account information and identifying information about accountholders to make it possible for U.S. authorities to move forward with criminal and civil proceedings. The banks have also agreed to cooperate with authorities who move forward with criminal and civil actions against accountholders. 

Once an investigation has begun into your offshore accounts, you need to speak with a New Jersey tax evasion attorney right away to explore all possible options to minimize potential penalties.  For accountholders who have not yet had their banks provide information to authorities, it could be just a matter of time. Voluntary disclosure or amnesty programs exist for some individuals to limit penalties, so you may wish to speak with an attorney to explore options.

Four More Foreign Banks Turn Over Customer Information

The four banks that have agreed to give information to U.S. officials about accountholders all engaged in services that were previously considered typical Swiss Bank services. The financial institutions did things like helped clients create foreign entities that could be listed as named accountholders, as well as allowed insurance-wrapped accounts (accounts held in the names of insurance companies).

Some accounts were numbered, and others were titled in the names of fictitious corporations to help accountholders evade tax reporting requirements.  Mail was also withheld, and banks helped clients move around and access funds without the funds coming to the attention of U.S. authorities. 

All of these behaviors helped to facilitate the evasion of U.S. obligations to report foreign accounts, and helped to facilitate the evasion of U.S. taxes. As a result, the banks knew they could face potential criminal prosecution. Instead of taking the chance of being charged, they participated in the Swiss Bank Program, which was a voluntary amnesty program for banks.

Banks that came forward and alerted authorities to their own part in tax evasion schemes would be able to negotiate non-criminal resolutions in which fines were paid, as long as the banks were also willing to cooperate by providing accountholder information.

These four banks will pay, collectively, around $25 million in penalties for their part in helping people connected to the U.S. to evade taxes. Accountholders could also face very substantial financial penalties if and when U.S. taxing authorities use information provided by the banks to begin civil and criminal cases against individual account owners.

An NJ tax evasion attorney will work hard to try to help accountholders to minimize financial consequences, avoid criminal prosecution and otherwise mitigate the damage their banks disclosure could cause.  Contact attorney Kevin Thorn as soon as possible so you can develop an effective plan.

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