Two Swiss Advisers Helped Clients Evade Taxes, U.S. Charges
By David Voreacos and Bob Van Voris – Mar 14, 2012 11:06 AM ET
Two Swiss men acted as “full service tax evasion advisers” in helping U.S. clients hide hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities, using street-corner handoffs and a child courier, prosecutors said.
Hans Thomann and Josef Beck, who worked as independent financial advisers, were charged in indictments filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to help Americans defraud the Internal Revenue Service and operating unlicensed money-transfer businesses for helping clients move cash.
The U.S. has charged at least 23 foreign bankers, advisers and attorneys, and at least 40 U.S. taxpayers in a crackdown on offshore firms suspected of helping Americans evade taxes. Last month, Wegelin & Co., the 270-year-old private bank, became the first Swiss lender to face criminal charges in the effort.
Thomann, prosecutors said, helped clients hide $138 million in assets from the IRS, while Beck aided clients in concealing $129 million. Both men illegally helped clients move undetected cash, using street corners and hotel rooms to evade detection, prosecutors said today in a statement. Beck used a child “to make a drop,” prosecutors said.
‘Without a Trace’
“Hans Thomann and Josef Beck acted as full service tax evasion advisers to their American clients,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in the statement. Beyond aiding clients in hiding income overseas, they “helped their clients moves hundreds of thousands of dollars across the Atlantic without a trace.”
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), the second-largest Swiss bank, said July 15 that it was a target of a criminal probe by the Justice Department over former cross-border private-banking services to U.S. customers. On July 21, seven Credit Suisse bankers were indicted on a charge of conspiring to help U.S. clients evade taxes through secret accounts.
The IRS has said 30,000 U.S. taxpayers with offshore accounts have avoided prosecution since 2009 by entering a limited amnesty program, paying back taxes and saying who helped them hide their accounts from authorities. Hundreds of taxpayers in the program have given information to prosecutors that has helped them build criminal cases against bankers and advisers.
The cases are U.S. v. Thomann, 12-cr-00212, and U.S. v. Beck, 12-cr-00211, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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