Is a common refrain that we often repeat on this blog due to the frequency in which we see crimes following a familiar pattern. That is, your accomplishments, occupation, and status will not protect you from suspicion regarding tax and financial crimes. It seems that all too often highly successful individuals seem to believe that their intelligence or reputation as an honest individual places them beyond suspicion and reproach. The individual’s scheme often becomes increasingly brazen before state or federal investigators or auditors simply follow the money trail back to the responsible party. Auditors simply adhere to their audit techniques and follow the evidence where it takes them regardless of the human factors that individuals think will protect them.
For decades Anchorage plastic surgeon Dr. Michael D. Brandner was a well-respected and a successful member of the community. However, it seems that Brandner was motivated to take risky and extreme measures around the time of his divorce from his wife. Bradner likely believedthat his reputation coupled with the rather extreme concealment measures he took would protect him from legal liability.
Around the time of the divorce, Brandner devised a scheme to hide more than five million dollars in assets using offshore accounts. Shortly after the divorce filing by his former wife, Bradner collected marital assets which he then secretly transported from Tacoma, Washington to Costa Rica by car. Once he arrived in Costa Rica, Brandner opened two bank accounts. In the bank accounts,he deposited approximately $350,000 cash. He also placed 1000 ounces of gold in a bank safe deposit box.
Following his activities in Costa Rica, Bradner then traveled to Panama. Once in Panama, Bradner opened another account using the name of a sham corporation. In 2008, Bradner a deposit roughly $4.6 million into this account.
In subsequent court filings for the divorce and in tax filings with the IRS, Bradner did not disclose these accounts or assets. Furthermore, Bradner failed to disclose the interest earned on these accounts in the same.
In 2011 after the divorce was final, Bradner attempted to repatriate the $4.6 million placed in the Panamanian accounts. However, Bradner was stopped by agents from U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Bradner made false statements to these agents regarding his control over the funds. The funds were seized by customs agents.
In November 2015, Bradner was convicted by a federal jury of three counts of tax evasion and four counts of wire fraud. Bradner was recently sentenced for his crimes. Bradner will serve four years in federal prison. In addition to the federal prison sentence, Bradner will serve two years of supervised release. Liability for the costs of the prosecution in the amount of $25,922.95 was also imposed. However, Bradner may face additional liability. While a decision has not been made regarding potential restitution to his former wife, it will soon be considered by the judge.
In addition, as a licensed professional, Bradner may face professional repercussions. Most professional ethics and review boards will revoke or suspend licensing credentials for individuals who have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Tax evasion and wire fraudare typically considered crimes of moral turpitude and, therefore, this additional collateral penalty may apply. Is important to stress that licensed professionals often have the most to lose when they face serious criminal charges like tax evasion and wire fraud.
It is also essential to note that the convictions against Bradner were secured utilizing evidence from at least three jurisdictions: The United States, Panama, and Costa Rica. Information sharing provisions in FATCA along with John Doe summons and other investigatory techniques means that no account is ever truly secret. Furthermore, the recent leak of the Panama Report should give further pause to individuals who rely on secret offshore accounts. If world leaders and the global elite can be affected by data leaks of this type, any individual can also suffer similar consequences.
If you are facing tax evasion charges, you could face severe damage to your reputation and a lengthy prison sentence. Furthermore, despite your intelligence and accomplishments, you will not be able to outsmart professional auditors who are highly trained and perform this type of workdayin and dayout. The Department of Justice boasts extremely high conviction rates for individuals charged with tax and financial crimes.
When faced with circumstances like these, work with an experienced tax lawyer. David Klasing has more than 20 years of experience as a dually licensed tax attorney and CPA. Mr. Klasing can utilize his knowledge and experience to develop a strategic approach to the audit or criminal charges you face. To schedule a reduced-rate consultation at Los Angeles or Irvine locations of the Tax Law Offices of David Klasing call 800-681-1295 today or contact us online.