U.S. Government Going After Top Bank Officials who Facilitate Tax Evasion

Offshore Account Update

Posted on November 25, 2014 |

United States authorities have prosecuted around three dozen foreign bankers and have arrested more financial professionals for helping U.S. citizens evade their income tax obligations. One of the individuals who was arrested was the former head of UBS’s wealth management for the Americas. This financial professional had a secret binder in which he kept emails and other evidence showing that high-level bank executives were involved in facilitating tax evasion. In exchange for avoiding prosecution, he turned that binder over to U.S. officials.

This is likely not the only instance in which bankers will be willing to turn over details about their co-workers and/or their customers in order to avoid prison time. As the U.S. government goes after top officials, the long tradition of secrecy in the Swiss banking industry is being broken and investors who kept their money offshore face potential fines, penalties and prosecution if their information is turned over.  Those who wish to potentially minimize or avoid these consequences should speak with a New Jersey criminal tax lawyer for information about their options as soon as possible.

The U.S. Government is Aggressively Prosecuting Tax Evaders

According to Newsweek, the Justice Department has brought cases against major Swiss banks, including Wegelin & Co. Wegelin & Co was the oldest private bank in Switzerland but it ultimately closed its doors and ceased operations after a U.S. indictment. 

The government has also brought charges against more than four dozen Americans with offshore investments, in addition to cases against bankers who helped people hide their money and banks who facilitated secret investments.  While tax-evasion is not illegal in Switzerland, the bankers are frightened of being faced with potential prison time in the United States.  As a result, many of the top bankers have largely been cooperative, even though centuries old Swiss traditions make it a criminal act for bankers to disclose the names of their clients.  The bankers who are being prosecuted are not low-level officials either, as Newsweek suggests that some of the top-ranking banking executives may have been involved in helping clients evade tax obligations.

U.S. investors are rightfully concerned that their bankers will turn over details about offshore accounts. As a result, more than 38,000 clients of various offshore banks have come forward and participated in voluntary disclosure programs. The investors have repaid around $5.5 billion in taxes on assets that were undeclared in offshore accounts.

Coming forward and reporting your own offshore investments may allow you to face lesser penalties than you otherwise would if the government discovered the investments as a result of testimony or information turned over by a banker or financial professional. Not only that, but it may be possible to avoid potential criminal charges if you are able to participate in a voluntary disclosure program. However, coming forward and alerting the government to hidden accounts is a big risk to take. You should not act to report your offshore investments until you have spoken with a New Jersey criminal tax lawyer for advice.

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