In a series of articles, we covered the U.S. Department of Justice’s new voluntary disclosure program for Swiss banks and the four filing categories involved. In June of 2014, a number of important developments regarding the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks occurred.
In this article, we will explain some of these new developments. This article is intended to provide interested individuals with general information about these developments, and does not convey tax or legal advice. If you have an offshore account, you should seek the advice of a tax attorney as significant penalties are involved. The experienced tax law firm of Sherayzen Law Office, Ltd. can assist you in your voluntary offshore disclosure and other tax and legal matters.
DOJ Program for Swiss Banks: DOJ Extends Deadline for Category 2 Swiss Banks
On June 5, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would extend the original June 30 deadline for category 2 Swiss banks for one month until July 31st. According to various new sources, the deadline was extended because of the difficulties Swiss banks were having in attempting to verify whether the accounts of U.S. taxpayers were undeclared or disclosed in a timely fashion to the IRS.
More than 100 Swiss banks have already applied under the DOJ program for Swiss Banks. For U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed bank accounts in Switzerland, this is highly welcome news.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Swiss Units Apply to Enter the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks; Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Maybe Next
Recently, the Swiss units of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley announced that they will enter the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks. According to various sources, Goldman’s Swiss private bank managed nearly $12 billion in assets as of year-end 2013. Morgan Stanley’s Swiss private bank managed about $50.7 billion- most of this amount however, was located in its branches in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan also have Swiss operations; according to several news sources, Citibank Switzerland AG did not yet enter category 2, but this is definitely a possibility. Same is true of J.P. Morgan’s private Swiss bank.
DOJ Program for Swiss Banks: Credit Suisse Pleads Guilty
Recently, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to pay $2.6 billion in a settlement with the DOJ. Please, read this article for more information.
DOJ Likely to Increase Focus on Undisclosed Accounts of US Taxpayers in the Cayman Islands, Singapore and Cook Islands, Among Others
The DOJ and the IRS have provided various indications that they intend to expand the scope of the U.S. pursuit of undisclosed foreign accounts to other major tax havens, such as Cayman Islands, Singapore, Cook Islands, Panama, et cetera.
For example, in an interview concerning the Credit Suisse case, Kathryn Keneally, former head of the Justice Department’s tax division, signaled the DOJ’s intentions to increase their focus on other tax-havens. After noting that the U.S. has traced (often, using the information collected during the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks) the money transfers to accounts held by U.S. persons in banks located in the Cayman Islands and other Caribbean countries, India, Israel, Luxembourg, and Lichtenstein, she highlighted the following: “It’s fair to say we know where the tax-haven countries are. You’ve got Singapore, you’ve got the Cook Islands… .”
The DOJ Program for Swiss Banks has provided an enormous amount of information regarding not only the Swiss bank accounts, but transfers to other countries. As Dena Iverson, a DOJ spokeswoman noted in a recent news article, “Through the program [the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks], as well as through ongoing investigations and other law enforcement tools, we are confident that we will obtain information that will lead us to account holders who have thought for too long that they can keep hiding.”
U.S. persons who hold accounts in Singapore, Cook Islands, Cayman Islands, Israel, India, Lebanon and other “target” countries should immediately seek advice in disclosing their offshore accounts. The worldwide FATCA compliance, combined with the potential of having another equivalent of the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks in any other of these countries, makes it simply reckless to wait for the DOJ and the IRS investigations.
On June 18, 2014, the IRS announced a major update to its 2012 Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), which includes new opportunities and penalties. See this article for further information.
The 2014 OVDP is directly relevant to U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed accounts in Swiss Banks which are currently working within the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks, because the banks’ disclosure of the unreported accounts may substantially reduce the available voluntary disclosure options for the U.S. taxpayers who own these accounts. Moreover, the US taxpayers with undisclosed accounts in the entities that are categorized under the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks as Category 1 banks may be subject to heightened penalties under the new 2014 OVDP rules.
This is why it is very important to coordinate your voluntary disclosure with the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Professional Help with Your Offshore Voluntary Disclosure
If you have undisclosed foreign accounts in Switzerland, contact Sherayzen Law Office for experienced legal help. Whether or not you received a letter from a Swiss Bank pursuant to the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks, time is likely to be of critical importance for you.