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Swiss financier faces charges of fraud

Tax experts in Massachusetts are watching a case that involves federal prosecutors charging a Swiss asset manager for tax evasion through offshore trust funds at numerous banks in Switzerland. The 52-year-old citizen of Switzerland could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in custody for the tax crimes. Authorities have charged him with engaging in fraud for at least 13 years and claim he worked with at least five financial institutions in his native country on the scheme.

The allegations against the man stem from his involvement with a lawyer who entered a guilty plea to tax crimes in Manhattan in August of 2013. The lawyer supposedly helped clients open accounts in Switzerland so they could avoid paying taxes. The pair allegedly set up fake foundations together to perpetrate their plot as they helped others avoid taxes.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Swiss banks more closely for encouraging tax evasion. One bank pleaded guilty in Jan. 2013 to charges of helping Americans get around paying taxes and decided to shut its doors, while other banks have settled. Even when authorities tightened their watch on offshore accounts, the man continued to aid Americans with their deceit by looking for other financial institutions to participate. He also helped at least one person take money out of an account a little at a time in order to avoid detection. U.S. citizens who were involved in the scheme did not report the accounts or the related monies to the IRS.

While few people want to pay taxes, tax fraud is a crime that the federal government takes seriously. A tax lawyer might be able to advise clients on how to legally reduce their obligations.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. charges Swiss asset manager in offshore tax fraud case", Carlyn Kolker, February 06, 2014

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