offshore voluntary disclosure lawyers Minneapolis

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement | Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Lawyer

On December 4, 2023, Banque Pictet et Cie SA (“Banque Pictet” – a Swiss private bank) entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the US government. In this article, I will discuss Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement and explain its importance.

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement: Facts Leading Up to the Agreement

The Pictet Group was founded in 1805; it is a privately held Swiss financial institution headquartered in Geneva. It has historically operated as a general partnership and, since 2014, as a corporate partnership. A limited number of managing partners, generally eight or fewer, collectively known as “The Salon,” own and manage the Pictet Group.

As of December 31, 2014, the Pictet Group had approximately 3,800 employees in various locations, primarily in Switzerland, but also in Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Bahamas. The Pictet Group operates two main business divisions: institutional asset management and private banking for individuals. From 2008 to 2014, Pictet Group’s private banking division was operated by the group’s following banking entities: the Swiss bank (Banque Pictet & Cie SA); Pictet & Cie (Europe) SA, headquartered in Luxembourg; Bank Pictet & Cie (Asia) Ltd. in Singapore and the Bahamian bank, Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd.

The Pictet Group provided offshore corporation, trust formation and administration services to its US clients. It provided these services first through the Estate Planning and Trust Services unit and later through a wholly owned subsidiary called Rhone Trust and Fiduciary Services SA (“Rhone”).

As of December 31, 2014, the Pictet Group’s private banking division managed or held custody of approximately $165 billion in assets under management (“AUM”). From 2008 to 2014, the Pictet Group served approximately 3,736 private accounts that had US taxpayers as beneficial owners, whose aggregate maximum AUM, including declared assets, was approximately $20 billion.

According to documents filed in Manhattan federal court, even though Pictet Group adopted early measures to confirm that US clients complied with US international tax laws, from 2008 through 2014, the Pictet Group assisted certain US clients with Pictet Group accounts in evading their US tax obligations and otherwise hiding undeclared accounts from the IRS.

In total, from 2008 through 2014, the Pictet Group held 1,637 US Penalty Accounts (I.e. accounts that the Pictet Group and the US Department of Justice agreed that should be subject to penalty as part of the Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement) with aggregate maximum AUM of approximately $5.6 billion in January of 2008.  The IRS estimates that the US owners of these accounts collectively evaded approximately $50.6 million in US taxes.

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement: How Pictet Group Assisted Its US Clients Evade US taxes

According to the IRS and the US Department of Justice, the Pictet Group assisted its US clients with evading their US taxes by opening and maintaining undeclared accounts for U.S. taxpayer-clients at the Pictet Group, either directly or through external asset managers. The Pictet Group also maintained accounts of certain US clients within the Pictet Group in a manner that allowed the them to further conceal their undeclared accounts from the IRS.  

As further detailed below, the Pictet Group used a variety of means to assist its US clients in concealing their undeclared accounts, including by:

  • forming or administering offshore entities in whose name the Pictet Group opened and maintained accounts, some of which were undeclared, for its US clients; 
  • opening and maintaining undeclared accounts in the names of offshore entities formed by others for for its US clients;
  • opening and maintaining Private Placement Life Insurance policy accounts, also called insurance wrappers, held in the name of insurance companies but beneficially owned by for its US clients and improperly managed or funded through undeclared accounts at the Pictet Group;
  • transferring funds from undeclared accounts to accounts nominally held by non-US clients but still controlled by for its US clients via fictitious donations, thus assisting for its US clients in continuing to maintain undeclared funds offshore;
  • providing traditional Swiss banking products such as hold-mail account services (where account-related mail is held at the bank rather than sent to the client) and coded or numbered accounts and
  • accepting IRS Forms W-8BEN or Pictet Group’s substitute forms that the group knew or should have known falsely stated or implied under penalty of perjury that offshore entities beneficially owned the assets in the undeclared accounts.

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement: Pictet Group’s Knowledge of Evasion

The IRS and the US Department of Justice state the Pictet Group and certain of its employees knew or should have known that some of their US clients were evading their US tax obligations. In every instance, managing partners approved the opening of new private client relationships and were informed of the closing of US-held accounts, which included some undeclared accounts.

“As it has admitted today, Banque Pictet knowingly conspired to conceal from the IRS the income generated by accounts which held more than $5.6 billion,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York.

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement: Fines & Cooperation Requirement

As part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, Banque Pictet entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay approximately $122.9 million. This amount consists of: (i) $52,164,201 to the United States, which represents gross fees (not profits) that the bank earned on its undeclared accounts between 2008 and 2014; (ii) $31,844,192 in restitution to the IRS, which represents the unpaid taxes resulting from Banque Pictet’s participation in the conspiracy and (iii) a $38,950,998 penalty.

In addition to the payment, Banque Pictet also agrees under the deferred prosecution agreement to accept responsibility for its conduct by stipulating to the accuracy of an extensive statement of facts. Banque Pictet further agreed to refrain from all future criminal conduct, implement remedial measures and cooperate fully with further investigations into hidden bank accounts. 

Specifically, the Bank agreed to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations and affirmatively disclose any information it may later uncover regarding US-owned accounts. The Bank should also disclose information consistent with the Justice Department’s Swiss Bank Program relating to accounts closed between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2022.

If Banque Pictet continues to comply with its agreement, the United States has agreed to defer prosecution of Banque Pictet for a period of three years, after which time the United States will seek to dismiss the charge against Banque Pictet.

Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement: Lessons

The Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement is another in a long string of the IRS victories over the now-defeated Swiss bank secrecy system. The IRS is simply “mopping-up” the left-over issues in Switzerland. Yet, this Agreement is still a major event that has repercussions for US taxpayers with undeclared foreign accounts. Let’s look at the major lessons from this case.

First, the Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement is likely to continue to impact its former US clients who transferred their funds out of this Swiss bank to another country or another bank in the hopes of avoiding IRS detection of their prior non-compliance. Under the agreement, Banque Pictet will continue to cooperate with the IRS in the identification of such noncompliant U.S. taxpayers.

Second, this continuous winning streak of the IRS over Swiss banks is likely to act as a continuous deterrent for any banks who wish to help noncompliant US clients not only in Switzerland, but other countries as well.

Finally, noncompliant US taxpayers should look very closely at how easily the IRS won over the former bank secrecy bastion of Switzerland and how eagerly the Swiss banks helped (and continue to help) the IRS and the US Department of Justice to pursue their former US clients.  It is important for these taxpayers to realize that there is no true safe haven from the IRS . Even if they have been successfully evading US taxes for years, at any point their noncompliance may be detected by the IRS. These taxpayers should also remember that a deferred prosecution agreement with the bank does not protect any individual US taxpayers from Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Undeclared Foreign Accounts

The Banque Pictet Deferred Prosecution Agreement is another reminder on how dangerous the current tax environment is for noncompliant U.S. taxpayers. Therefore, if you have not disclosed your foreign accounts, other foreign assets or foreign income, you contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our team of tax professionals is highly experienced in handling these matters and we can help you!

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2024 SDOP Audit | Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Lawyer

An increasing number of submissions under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) has been subject to an IRS audit; this trend will undoubtedly continue in 2024. In this article, I will explain what an 2024 SDOP Audit is and what a taxpayer should expect during the Audit.

2024 SDOP Audit: Background Information on Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is a voluntary disclosure option offered by the IRS since June of 2014 to noncompliant US taxpayers to settle their past tax noncompliance concerning foreign assets and foreign income at a reduced penalty rate. In order to participate in SDOP, a taxpayer must meet various eligibility requirements. The most important of these eligibility requirements is non-willfulness of prior noncompliance.

SDOP is likely to be the most convenient and the least expensive voluntary disclosure option for taxpayers who are not eligible for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures and whose prior tax noncompliance was non-willful. 

2024 SDOP Audit: Why SDOP Disclosures Are Subject to IRS Audits

SDOP audits originate within the very nature of SDOP.  SDOP voluntary disclosures have certain eligibility requirements.  Once the disclosures are submitted, the IRS does not immediately subject them to an immediate comprehensive review of whether all eligibility requirements are met.  There is a review process, but initially it focuses on whether the formalities of the SDOP were met.

This is very different from the immediate comprehensive audit-like review of all items as part of the voluntary disclosure process that form part of some other programs, such as prior OVDPs (Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program) or even current IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice (VDP). These voluntary disclosure options usually also require the signing of Form 906, the Closing Agreement. SDOP does not have that final stage of signing Form 906.

This means that, if a suspicion arises concerning whether a taxpayer met the SDOP eligibility requirements, the only way for the IRS to resolve it is to audit the entire disclosure, particularly on the issue of non-willfulness. As part of the SDOP process, the IRS reserves the right to audit any SDOP submission at any point within three years after the submission of the original SDOP voluntary disclosure package.

2024 SDOP Audit: Process

The exact process of a Streamlined Submission Audit varies from case to case, but all of such audits have a similar format: initial letter with request for a meeting, meeting with an interview, review of submitted documents and (very likely) additional requests for information, interview of other involved individuals (such as a tax preparer) and, finally, the results of an audit are provided by the IRS to taxpayer(s) and/or the representative indicated on Form 2848.

In other words, your 2024 SDOP Audit would commence in a way very similar to a regular IRS audit: a letter is sent to taxpayers and (if there is a Form 2848 on file) to their representative. The letter explains that the IRS decided to examine certain tax returns (usually all three years of amended tax returns) and asks for submission of all documentation and work papers that were used to prepare the amended returns. Additionally, the letter requests that the taxpayers’ representative (or taxpayers if not represented) contact the IRS agent in charge of the audit to schedule the initial meeting.

During the initial meeting, the IRS agent will review (at least to make sure he or she has what is needed) the documents supplied. In larger cases, the IRS will need a lot more time to later examine all of the submitted documents and see if additional documents are needed. If a case is very small, it is possible for an agent to cover everything in the first meeting, but it is very rare.

Also, during an initial meeting, there is going to be an interview of the taxpayer(s). I will discuss the interview separately in a different article.

Once the review of the initial package of documents is concluded, it is very likely that the IRS agent will have questions and additional document requests. The questions may be answered by the taxpayers’ attorney during a separate meeting with the agent; smaller questions may be settled over the phone.

If additional documentation is needed, an IRS agent will send out an additional request to taxpayers and/or their attorney. The answer will most likely need to be provided in writing (and it is actually better to state your position for the record).

Once the IRS completes its interview of other involved parties and reviews all evidence, it will make its decision and submit the results of the audit to the taxpayers and their tax attorney in writing. The taxpayers’ attorney will need to build a strategy with respect to the taxpayers’ response to the audit results depending on whether the taxpayers agree or disagree with the results of the audit.

Differences Between Your 2024 SDOP Audit and Regular IRS Audit

At first, it may seem that there are no big differences between a regular IRS audit and an SDOP audit. While procedurally this may be correct, substantively it is not.

The greatest difference between the two types of IRS audits is the subject-matter involved. While a regular IRS audit will concentrate on the tax returns only, a Streamlined Submission Audit will involve everything: amended tax returnsFBARs, other information returns and, most importantly, Non-Willfulness Certification. In other words, a Streamlined Submission Audit will focus not only on whether the tax forms are correct, but also on whether the taxpayer was actually non-willful with respect to his prior tax noncompliance.

This difference in the subject-matter examination will carry over to other aspects of a Streamlined Submission Audit: the taxpayers’ interview will focus on their non-willfulness arguments, third-party interviews of original tax preparers become a regular feature (this is very different from a regular IRS audit when tax preparers may never be interviewed), and the final IRS results must necessarily make a decision on whether to challenge the taxpayers’ non-willfulness arguments.

Failure by a taxpayer to sustain his non-willfulness arguments may result in a disaster for the taxpayer with a potential referral to the Tax Division of the US Department of Justice for a criminal investigation.

This is why it is so important for a taxpayer subject to an SDOP Audit to retain the services of an experienced international tax lawyer to handle the audit professionally.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With Your 2024 SDOP Audit 

If your submission under the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is being audited by the IRS, contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible. Our international tax law firm is highly experienced in offshore voluntary disclosures (SDOP, SFOP, “noisy disclosures”, “quiet disclosures”, et cetera) and the IRS audits of voluntary disclosures, including the audits of SDOP submissions.

 We can Help You during Your IRS Audit!  Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Lawyer: 2024 SDOP Advantages

Since 2014, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (“SDOP”) has probably been the most popular offshore voluntary disclosure option, and I predict that it will remain so in the year 2024. In this article, I would like to explore main four 2024 SDOP advantages which US taxpayers should take into account while considering an offshore voluntary disclosure this year.

2024 SDOP Advantages: Background Information and General Requirements

The IRS created the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure as an offshore voluntary disclosure option on June 18, 2014. The IRS specifically the designed Streamlined Domestic Disclosure to address the critique of many practitioners and taxpayers that the 2012 OVDP did not adequately deal with US taxpayers who non-willfully violated their US tax obligations (for example, in cases where the taxpayers simply did not know about the existence of FBAR or Form 8938).

Any taxpayer can participate in the SDOP as long as he satisfies all six parts of this option’s eligibility criteriaUS tax residency, not eligible for Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (“SFOP”), original US tax returns filed for the past three years, foreign income and information return (such as FBAR or Form 8938) violations, absence of IRS examination or investigation and non-willfulness.

If a taxpayer satisfies the eligibility criteria, he then must comply with all of the required submissions. The key requirement here is the certification under the penalty of perjury that the taxpayer’s prior tax noncompliance was non-willful. This requirement is the heart of the Streamlined Domestic Disclosure and must be approached with special care.

The other requirements include filing of amended tax returns for the past three years (with all of the necessary information returns), filing FBARs for the past six years, payment of tax due with interest and payment of Miscellaneous Offshore Penalty. Other requirements may also apply depending on the specific situation of a taxpayer.

2024 SDOP Offers a Number of Advantages to Noncompliant US Taxpayers

While the list of the requirements above may seem like a lot of work, in reality, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures definitely offers a number of advantages compared to other offshore voluntary disclosure options. I will discuss in this article only the main four advantages.

Keep in mind that the SDOP may not always be advantages to taxpayers. There are plenty of situations where other offshore voluntary disclosure options may be superior to the SDOP.

I also wish to emphasize that the analysis of advantages or disadvantages of a particular voluntary disclosure option is highly fact-specific. I strongly recommend that you contact Sherayzen Law Office for a detailed analysis of your voluntary disclosure options before you even attempt to proceed with your offshore voluntary disclosure.

2024 SDOP Advantages: Easier Risk Management

One of the greatest advantages (though, the one rarely discussed on the Internet) of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is the opportunity this option offers to manage the voluntary disclosure risks. We can be even more precise – to manage the risk-reward ratio.

The 2024 SDOP is a disclosure option that offers a definitive transparent calculation of risks and rewards.  While the risks associated with non-willfulness are not always easy to determine, the rest of the SDOP framework, such as penalty rate, calculation of Penalty Base and other factors are generally (though, not always) much clearer than in riskier disclosure options such Noisy Disclosure, Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (“DIIRSP”) and Reasonable Cause disclosures.

2024 SDOP Advantages: Legal Standard

Closely related to the risk management factor discussed above is another SDOP advantage of a lower legal standard of proof — non-willfulness. While proving non-willfulness can be a complicated and difficult process, it is still much easier than satisfying the reasonable cause standard.

The reasonable cause standard is immensely more difficult and tougher to meet for a taxpayer. Yet it is the statutory standard for penalty removal for pretty much every US international tax form outside of a voluntary disclosure. Reasonable cause is also the standard for even some other voluntary disclosure programs (for example, DIIRSP). Of course, IRS VDP does not require proving even non-willfulness, but its penalty system is a lot harsher than that of the SDOP.

2024 SDOP Advantages: Relatively Low Penalty Rate

One of the most cited advantages of the 2024 SDOP is the low penalty rate of 5%. This is usually a huge advantage over the very high IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice (“VDP”) penalty rates or various penalties outside of a voluntary disclosure program (including in many cases FBAR non-willful penalties). This is not always the case, but it is true in most non-willful cases.

2024 SDOP Advantages: Shortened Voluntary Disclosure Period

Finally, another great advantage of Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is the smaller number of years covered by the voluntary disclosure period. Unlike the old OVDP voluntary disclosure period (which used to cover eight years of FBARs and tax returns) and the current VDP voluntary disclosure period of up to six years, SDOP’s voluntary disclosure period only encompasses the years which are covered by a regular statute of limitations.

In other words, it only includes the past six years of FBARs (occasionally seven) and past three years of tax returns. Obviously, this is a lot more convenient than VDP.  It should be noted that a voluntary disclosure that involves an expatriation will require an increased number of amended tax returns.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Streamlined Domestic Disclosure

Even with all of its advantages, Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures may still be a very complex process that requires professional attention. There are a number of pitfalls that may seriously undermine the advantages of a Streamlined Domestic Disclosure. Sometimes, unrepresented taxpayers may also make mistakes that may have a disastrous result during a subsequent IRS audit.

This is why you need the professional help of Sherayzen Law Office. Our experienced legal team has helped hundreds of US taxpayers resolve their prior noncompliance with US international tax laws, including by using Streamlined Domestic Offsshore Procedures.

We Can Help You! Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!

Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures Lawyer: 2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements

The introduction of the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures (SDOP) in 2014 meant that the IRS finally recognized that there was a very large number of U.S. taxpayers who were non-willful with respect to their inability to comply with numerous obscure complex requirements of U.S. tax laws.  Since 2014, SDOP has been a highly successful voluntary disclosure option that I predict will remain as popular in 2024.  For this reason, in this short article, I will review the main six 2024 SDOP eligibility requirements.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: US Taxpayer

The first main requirement to be able to utilize SDOP is that the applicant is a US taxpayer. In the context of SDOP, this term is equivalent to a US tax resident.  This means that he should be one of the following: a U.S. citizen, U.S. lawful permanent resident, or he must have met the substantial presence test.

The substantial presence test is outlined in 26 U.S.C. 7701(b)(3). In general, under 26 U.S.C. §7701(b)(3), an individual meets the substantial presence test if the sum of the number of days on which such individual was present in the United States during the current year and the 2 preceding calendar years (when multiplied by the applicable multiplier) equals or exceeds 183 days.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Not Eligible for SFOP

The second requirement to participate in SFOP is that the taxpayer fails to meet the non-residency requirements of Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP). I describe the non-residency requirements of SFOP in detail in this article.

What happens if spouses file a joint tax return and one of the spouses fails the non-residency requirement but the other spouse meets it? In this case, both spouses are still eligible to participate in the SDOP.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: US Tax Returns Filed

In order to participate in SDOP, the taxpayer must have previously filed a US tax return (if required) for each of the most recent three years for which the US tax return due date (or properly applied for extended due date) has passed.  In other words, a taxpayer cannot file a late original tax return as part of SDOP; he can only amend the returns that were already filed.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Foreign Income and Information Return Violations

Another important eligibility requirement for SDOP is that the taxpayer must have failed to report foreign income and pay US taxes on it AND may have failed to file FBAR and/or and/or one or more international information returns (e.g. Forms 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 5472, 8938, 926, and 8621) with respect to the foreign financial asset that generated the foreign income.  In other words, foreign income reporting violation is crucial for the SDOP participation.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: Non-Willfulness

This is the most important and most critical eligibility requirement to the participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures. The taxpayer’s violations of the applicable US international tax requirements must be non-willful.

The non-willful nature of violations must apply to everything: the failures to report the income from a foreign financial asset, pay tax as required by US tax law, file FBARs and file other international information returns (such as Forms 3520, 3520-A547154728938926, and 8621). If the failure to file the FBAR and any other information returns was willful, the participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures is not likely to be possible.

2024 SDOP Eligibility Requirements: SDOP Participation Must Be Timely

Finally, the fifth SDOP eligibility requirement is that the participating taxpayer is not subject to an IRS civil examination or an IRS criminal investigation, irrespective of whether the examination/investigation is related to undisclosed foreign financial assets or involves any of the years subject to the voluntary disclosure. If the taxpayer is already subject to such an examination/investigation, his participation in the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedure would not be considered timely.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Legal Help With Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure

If you have undisclosed foreign accounts or any other offshore assets, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal help. Our experienced international tax law firm will thoroughly analyze your case, estimate your current IRS penalty exposure, and determine your eligibility for the available voluntary disclosure options, including the SDOP, SFOP and other voluntary disclosure options.

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Singapore Solution Fraud Scheme Co-Creator Pleads Guilty |  SDOP lawyer Minneapolis

On December 21, 2023, the IRS and the US Department of Justice announced that Mr. Rolf Schnellmann, a Swiss national, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States for his role in the creation and implementation of a fraud scheme related to foreign accounts and foreign income called “Singapore Solution”.  In this small essay, I will discuss the Singapore Solution, the facts of the Schnellmann case and the lessons one can draw from this case.

Singapore Solution: Basic Description of the Tax Evasion Scheme

The idea behind the Singapore Solution is fairly simple. Funds owned secretly (i.e. without a proper disclosure to the IRS on FBAR, Form 8938, et cetera) by US persons in a Swiss bank are first transferred to a series of nominee accounts in other jurisdictions (for example, Hong Kong). In the meantime, the Swiss bankers established (usually indirectly through a law firm) a Singapore-based asset management firm which opens new bank accounts in its name in the Swiss bank. After passing through nominee accounts, the US-owned funds are returned to the Swiss bank and placed in the new bank accounts opened by the asset management firm.

In other words, the Singapore Solution basically represents a circular scheme where the ownership of funds is artificially obscured by involvement of third parties. Obviously, the US owners of the undisclosed funds handsomely compensated the Swiss bankers, the managers of the asset management firm and the nominees for their work. Also obviously, this scheme crosses the line between asset/tax planning and criminal tax evasion.

Singapore Solution: Basic Facts of Schnellmann Case

According to court documents and statements made in court, Rolf Schnellmann was the head of Allied Finance Trust AG, a Zurich-based financial services company and a subsidiary of the Allied Finance Group in Liechtenstein.  Between 2008 to 2014, Schnellmann and his co-conspirators helped high-net-worth US taxpayers set-up and implement the Singapore Solution concerning their undeclared bank accounts at Privatbank IHAG Zurich AG (IHAG), a Swiss private bank. 

According to the Department of Justice, Schnellmann and his colleagues transferred more than $60 million from the US-owned undeclared IHAG bank accounts through a series of nominee accounts in Hong Kong and other locations before returning the funds to newly opened accounts at IHAG in the name of a Singapore-based asset-management firm that Schnellmann helped establish. IHAG participated in the 2013 IRS Voluntary Disclosure Program for Swiss Banks. Surely, as a result of this process, IHAG disclosed a lot of information concerning the Singapore Solution.  This allowed the IRS to track down not only the noncompliant US clients of that bank, but also the Singapore Solution creators and facilitators, like Mr. Schnellamann.  He was arrested in August of 2023 in Italy and extradited to the United States.

The IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) conducted the investigation with the help of the US Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, Interpol, Italian law enforcement authorities, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Trieste and the Italian Ministry of Justice.

Singapore Solution: Consequences of the Guilty Plea for Schnellmann

As a result of the guilty plea, Mr. Schnellmann is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19, 2024. He now faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Singapore Solution: Lessons

The Schnellmann case and the Singapore Solution that he co-authored allow us to deduce certain lessons.  The first and most obvious, one must respect the difference between legitimate even if aggressive tax planning and criminal tax evasion.  Mr. Schnellmann crossed that line and will pay a high price for it.

Second, US taxpayers must declare their foreign accounts to the IRS on FBAR, Form 8938 and Schedule B of Form 1040.  Failure to do so may bring very painful consequences in the form of high IRS civil and even criminal penalties.

Finally, there is really no safe place for noncompliant taxpayers to hide. Even if they have been lucky to avoid IRS detection of their noncompliance so far, a disclosure from third parties may lead to an IRS investigation that may ultimately result in the discovery of the noncompliance.  In this case, the IRS will most likely impose very heavy penalties for noncompliance (made even heavier by the fact that the IRS had to invest a lot of resources and man-hours into the case).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help With the Voluntary Disclosure of Your Undisclosed Foreign Assets and Foreign Income

For all of these reasons, noncompliant taxpayers should explore their offshore voluntary disclosure options before the IRS finds out about their noncompliance. Otherwise, an IRS audit will make it impossible for them to lower their IRS noncompliance penalties through a voluntary disclosure.

Sherayzen Law Office is a leader in the IRS offshore voluntary disclosures, including disclosures that involve foreign income noncompliance and foreign asset reporting noncompliance (on FBAR, Form 8938, 3520, 3520-A, 5471, 8865, 8858, et cetera).  Led by Mr. Eugene Sherayzen, a highly-experienced international tax attorney, our international tax team has helped hundreds of US taxpayers around the globe to bring their tax affairs into full compliance with the IRS while lowering and sometimes even eliminating IRS penalties.

Contact Us Today to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation!