Former Credit Suisse Banker Pleads Guilty | FATCA Lawyer Duluth

On July 19, 2017, Ms. Susanne D. Rüegg Meier, a citizen of Switzerland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with her work as the head of a team of bankers for Credit Suisse AG. The announcement of this plea by a former Credit Suisse Banker came from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

Facts that Led to Guilty Plea by the Former Credit Suisse Banker

According to the statement of facts and the plea agreement, Ms. Rüegg Meier admitted that, between 2002 and 2011, she worked as the team head of the Zurich Team of Credit Suisse’s North American desk in Switzerland. Ms. Rüegg Meier was responsible for supervising the servicing of accounts involving over 1,000 to 1,500 client relationships, out of which she personally handled about 140 to 150 clients (the great majority of these clients were U.S. persons). These “personally handled” clients had assets of about $400 million.

Ms. Rüegg Meier assisted many U.S. clients in utilizing their Credit Suisse accounts to evade their U.S. income taxes and to facilitate concealment of their undeclared financial accounts from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS. In particular, she engaged in the following activities to help her clients conceal their accounts: retaining in Switzerland all mail related to the account; structuring withdrawals in the forms of multiple checks each payable in amounts less than $10,000 that were sent by courier to clients in the United States and arranging for U.S. customers to withdraw cash from their Credit Suisse accounts at Credit Suisse locations outside Switzerland, such as the Bahamas. Moreover, Ms. Rüegg Meier admitted that approximately 20 to 30 of her U.S. clients concealed their ownership and control of foreign financial accounts by holding those accounts in the names of nominee tax haven entities or other structures that were frequently created in the form of foreign partnerships, trusts, corporations or foundations.

Additionally, between 2002 and 2008, the former Credit Suisse banker traveled approximately twice per year to the United States to meet with her clients. Among other places, Ms. Rüegg Meier met clients in the Credit Suisse New York representative office. To prepare for the trips, the former Credit Suisse banker would obtain “travel” account statements that contained no Credit Suisse logos or customer information, as well as business cards that bore no Credit Suisse logos and had an alternative street address for her office, in order to assist her in concealing the nature and purpose of her business.

After the UBS case, Credit Suisse began closing U.S. customers’ accounts in 2008. During that time, Ms. Rüegg Meier assisted the clients in keeping their assets concealed. In one instance, when one U.S. customer was informed that the bank planned to close his account, the former Credit Suisse banker assisted the customer in closing the account by withdrawing approximately $1 million in cash. Furthermore, she advised the client to find another bank simply by walking along the street in Zurich and locating a bank that would be willing to open an account for the client. The customer placed the cash into a paper bag and exited the bank.

Admitted Tax Loss from the Activities of the Former Credit Suisse Banker and Potential Sentence

The former Credit Suisse Banker admitted that the tax loss associated with her criminal conduct was between $3.5 and $9.5 million. The sentencing of Ms. Rüegg Meier is scheduled for September 8, 2017. She faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

IRS Office of Appeals to Pilot Internet Virtual Conference Option

On July 24, 2017, the IRS Office of Appeals announced that it will soon pilot a new Internet virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives. This new option will offer an additional choice for holding taxpayer conferences and will come as close as possible to a “face-to-face” meeting.

Internet Virtual Conference Option: Existing Options

Each year, the IRS Office of Appeals hears appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers. The main purpose of such an appeal is to resolve tax issues without going to court. By avoiding the court, the taxpayers are able to dispute the original IRS finding in a convenient and fast way; they can even introduce additional evidence without the formal procedures required in court. The IRS Office of Appeals is also a very cheap forum for disputing IRS decisions compared to federal court. Finally, it is one of the ten rights guaranteed to taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Currently, the taxpayers who utilize the appeals process can participate in a meeting with an Appeals Officer in three ways: in person, by phone or through a special video conference technology. Each of these options has its own problems. A face-to-face meeting with an Appeals Officer may require substantial traveling for the taxpayer. A telephone conference resolves this problem, but it loses the personal interaction that so many taxpayers prefer.

While the current video conference option partially resolves both problems, its biggest drawback is limited availability – only a few IRS Offices have the necessary technology.

Internet Virtual Conference Option Aims to Offer Another Option to Supplement the Existing Ones

The new Internet Virtual Conference Option aims to resolve the current problems with the existing options. The idea is to provide a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere they have internet access – this is very similar to Video Skype Conferences offered by Sherayzen Law Office.

In essence the pilot Internet Virtual Conference Option will allow for greater access of the IRS by the taxpayers. In the future, it is likely that this option will become the preferred one by the IRS and the taxpayers.

Internet Virtual Conference Option Pilot Will Start on August 1, 2017

The IRS Office of Appeals plans to commence the pilot Internet Virtual Conference Option on August 1, 2017. After the pilot program is completed, the IRS will analyze the results and determine the taxpayers’ satisfaction with the technology. Sherayzen Law Office predicts that, once the technology is finalized, the IRS Internet Virtual Conference Option will become a permanent feature in the near future.

Precious Metals Broker Indicted for Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income

On April 12, 2017, a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment, which was unsealed on May 24, 2017, charging Mr. Christopher Wolf, who operated Rothchild & Associates LLC (in New York), with tax evasion and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns achieved by using shell corporations to conceal income.

Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income: Facts According to the Indictment

Mr. Wolf operated Rothchild & Associates LLC and was in the business of selling precious metals to investors over the telephone. While the company was technically owned by a third-party, the indictment alleges that Mr. Wolf controlled all aspects of Rothchild’s operations

According to the indictment, Mr. Wolf allegedly concealed the income he earned from Rothchild by using shell corporations. The scheme operated in a very simple way: Mr. Wolf’s commissions from Rothchild were paid by the company to shell corporations and, then, Mr. Wolf used the funds for his own personal purposes.

The indictment further alleges that Mr. Wolf filed a false 2010 individual income tax return which did not disclose the income he earned from selling precious metals. Then, Mr. Wolf simply failed to file his 2011 income tax return. On the “corporate side”, the indictment states that Mr. Wolf caused the shell corporations to file false 2010 and 2011 corporate tax returns that claimed deductions for phony expenses.

Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income: Potential Consequences

If the IRS is successful in proving its case, Mr. Wolf may face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for tax evasion and three years in prison for aiding and assisting the preparation or presentation of a false tax return.

Important Reminder: Indictment is NOT a Finding of Guilt

Sherayzen Law Office reminds its readers that an indictment is not a finding of guilt. Guilt can only be established in a court of law. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for a Voluntary Disclosure to Avoid Criminal Penalties if You are Using Shell Corporations to Conceal Income

If you are using shell corporations to conceal your income, then you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible to explore your voluntary disclosure options to avoid criminal penalties. It is important to act fast – if the IRS initiates an investigation first, you may not be able to participate in any formal IRS voluntary disclosure programs.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

A Senior Citizen With Offshore Accounts in Panama Pleads Guilty | IRS News

On May 26, 2017, the IRS scored another victory against Offshore Accounts in Panama and again against a senior citizen. This time, Ms. Joyce Meads, a 73-year old Texas resident, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by using offshore accounts in Panama to conceal more than $1.3 million in royalty income that she earned from oil wells.

Offshore Accounts in Panama: Facts of the Meads Case

According to documents and information provided to the court, from approximately April of 1997 through April of 2010, Ms. Meads conspired with offshore promoters to disguise more than $1.3 million in royalty income (from oil wells) as scholarships and loans from a foreign corporation that she set up.

In particular, Ms. Meads set up nominee companies in Delaware and Panama in the name of W.G. Holdings Corporation. Then, she transferred her interest in the oil wells to the nominee entity in Delaware, which resulted in all of the royalty checks to be issued to W.G. Holdings and sent to a Miami post office box. The checks were picked up there and sent by a courier to Panama to be deposited into Ms. Meads’ nominee accounts. Later, as it was mentioned above, the funds were repatriated as scholarships or loans from W.G. Holdings to herself. Ultimately, the funds ended up on her bank accounts and the accounts that were opened in her mother’s name.

During all of the relevant years, Ms. Meads never reported her income on her tax returns. Nor did she ever file an FBAR with respect to her offshore account in Panama. As part of the guilty plea, Ms. Meads admitted that she caused a tax laws of more than $250,000.

The IRS identified the promoters who helped Ms. Meads in her conspiracy to evade taxes. They are Marc Harris of The Harris Organization, Republic of Panama, and Boyce Griffin of Offshore Management Alliance Ltd., Republic of Panama. Both of them have already been convicted of conspiracy and other charges and were previously sentenced to prison.

Offshore Accounts in Panama: Potential Jail Time and FBAR Penalties

The sentencing of Ms. Meads is scheduled for August 4, 2017. Ms. Meads faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. The penalties will likely include not only income tax fraud penalties, but also FBAR penalties.

Offshore Accounts in Panama: Lessons from the Meads Case

The Meads case is a classic example of a situation that leads to an IRS criminal investigation. Let’s focus on three main factors here.

First, Ms. Meads was diverting pre-tax US-source income from the United States to an offshore tax shelter. Based just on this fact, the IRS has sufficient incentive to make an example of her. In fact, diverting US-source income to a tax shelter might be the most important factor that led to criminal penalties in this case.

Second, Ms. Meads utilized a shell corporations to hide her income. Involving foreign companies in a tax evasion scheme is a very common factor that leads to an IRS criminal investigation.

Finally, Ms. Meads utilized secret offshore accounts in Panama in her tax evasion scheme – accounts that she never disclosed on her FBARs. By doing so, she granted to the IRS a very powerful weapon in the form of draconian FBAR penalties, not just criminal but also civil. This means that the IRS had a trump card in court to force Ms. Meads to agree to a guilty plea. In other words, with FBAR penalties as a major negotiation weapon, the IRS feels confident to press with the criminal charges for the entire case. While in the Meads case proving the rest of the charges might not have been very difficult, this is not the situation in a lot of other cases.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Disclosing Your Offshore Accounts in Panama and Any Other Foreign Country

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts or any other foreign assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Time may be of the essence, because an IRS investigation may prevent you from participating in any of the main Offshore Voluntary Disclosure initiatives.

With Sherayzen Law Office, you can feel confident that expertise, experience and convenience is on your side! We have helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the world to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with US tax laws, and We Can Help You!

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