It is well-known that the IRS is in hot pursuit of U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed bank accounts in Mizrahi Bank. There have been a number of victories that the IRS has scored against Mizrahi Bank clients. The latest example of this is the case of Monajem Hakimijoo who plead guilty on February 13, 2014.
According to court documents, Mr. Hakimijoo, a U.S. citizen, and his brother maintained an undeclared bank account in Israel at Mizrahi Bank in the name of Kalamar Enterprises, a Turks and Caicos Islands entity they used to conceal their ownership of the account. Mr. Hakimijoo and his brother used the funds in the Kalamar account as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Mizrahi Bank. Although Mr. Hakimijoo and his brother claimed the interest paid on the back-to-back loans as a business deduction for federal tax purposes, they failed to report the interest income earned in their undeclared, Israel-based account as income on their tax returns. In total, Mr. Hakimijoo failed to report approximately $282,000 in interest income. The highest balance in the Kalamar Enterprises account was approximately $4,030,000.
As further described in the release by the U.S. DOJ, in March 2013, Mr. Hakimijoo was scheduled to be interviewed by Justice Department attorneys and IRS special agents. Prior to the interview, Mr. Mr. Hakimijoo, through counsel, provided the attorneys and special agents with copies of his amended tax returns for 2004 and 2005. When asked if the amended tax returns had been filed with the IRS, Mr. Hakimijoo indicated that the returns had been filed. Shortly thereafter, the IRS determined there was no record of the amended returns being filed with the IRS. When Mr. Hakimijoo was asked to provide copies of cancelled checks to prove that the taxes reflected on the amended returns had been paid, none were provided.
Points of Interest of the Mr. Hakimijoo Case
Several features are prominent in this case. First, the Mizrahi Bank account in question was not in Switzerland, but Israel itself. This is one more example of the IRS interest in countries other than Switzerland. Israel is an obvious target, but it appears that it will not take long for the IRS to expand into the neighboring country of Lebanon.
Second, it seems incredible that Mr. Hakimijoo would engage in such reckless conduct as to gamble on the IRS not finding out that he has not filed the amended tax returns. Equally puzzling is the fact that the guilty plea did not involve any type of a false statement charge.
Finally, unfortunately for Mr. Hakimijoo, the facts of his case were greatly influenced by the use of an entity to conceal the ownership of the Mizrahi Bank account.
U.S. Taxpayers with Undisclosed Accounts in Israel Should Do Some Type of Voluntary Disclosure
Mr. Hakimijoo is the latest in a series of defendants charged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with concealing undeclared bank accounts in Israel that were used to obtain back-to-back loans in the United States. It is unlikely that the IRS will relent its pursuit at this point given the wealth of information that has been collected through the IRS voluntary disclosure programs as well as the Swiss voluntary disclosure program for banks.
The biggest lesson for U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed accounts in Israel and Mizrahi Bank specifically is that the IRS will not limit itself to Switzerland. Hence, there is a great urgency for these taxpayers to commence the analysis of their voluntary disclosure options as soon as possible. Some options may still be open if these taxpayers come forward now; these options may be closed once the taxpayer is subject to an IRS investigation.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Experienced Professional Help with Your Voluntary Disclosure
If you are a U.S. person who has (or had at any point since 2007) undisclosed bank or financial accounts in Israel and any other foreign country, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office as soon as possible for professional help. Our experienced international tax law firm has helped taxpayers throughout the world with their voluntary disclosures and we can help you.
Call Us to Schedule Your Confidential Consultation NOW!