In a clear showing that the Justice Department isn’t letting up in their prosecutions for offshore tax evasion, conspiracy charges have been filed against a Swiss citizen for allegedly assisting Americans stash money away in Swiss banks. Peter Amrein, a 52-year-old asset manager and Swiss citizen, was indicted last week in a federal court in New York.
The investigation into Amrein’s activities most likely emanated from the cooperation of Edgar Paltzer, a Swiss lawyer who recently pleaded guilty to similar charges last year in New York. Amrein is alleged to have worked with Paltzer as they “aided and abetted U.S. taxpayers in their efforts to skirt the tax code and conceal their assets in offshore accounts”, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
The men set up accounts at several Swiss banks including Wegelin & Co., which has already plead guilty in federal court on tax charges. Amrein “maintained and managed undeclared accounts at Swiss banks for various U.S. taxpayers holding millions dollars in undeclared assets”. Amrein could spend up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge.
With the Justice Department ramping up their prosecution efforts, there is even more of an incentive for Swiss banks or other professionals, in an attempt to avoid jail-time, to work with the United States to uncover undeclared accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers. This is bad news for Americans with money stashed away in overseas accounts. Not only will taxpayers be forced to pay any back-taxes owed and steep penalties and fines, but they will also be subject to criminal prosecution and the possibility of time in federal prison, much like Mr. Amrein.
But not all American’s have to live in fear of adverse criminal action if they have money in undeclared accounts overseas. Nearly 45,000 taxpayers in the U.S. have avoided federal prosecution in the past 5 years by participating in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program. By participating in the program, a taxpayer agrees to pay the IRS back taxes, fines and penalties, but can skirt prosecution and the possibility of spending any time behind bars.
If you have monies in an offshore account that is undeclared and hidden from the IRS, you don’t have much time before all of the foreign banks give up information to save themselves. Don’t live in fear, contact us today.