Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Offshore Items from Report on NYU Tax Controversy Forum (6/11/'13)

Jeremiah Coder of Tax Analysts reported on NYU's annual Tax Controversy Forum in Jeremiah Coder, U.S. Able to Find Jurisdiction for Foreign Bank Prosecutions, 2013 TNT 111-7 (6/10/13).  Here are some key points and excerpts:

1.  Daniel Levy, AUSA SDNY, prominently involved on offshore bank and related prosecutions, said that the prosecutions of foreign bankers and banks is intended to send a message even if there is no ability to arrest and try the defendants because they will not be extradited to the U.S..  In my view, this sends a relatively cheap message when only an indictment is involved because large and costly systemic resources never have to be deployed (trial, sentencing and incarceration).  In addition, as Levy noted, the charges " produce strong sanctions such as preventing individuals from traveling internationally."

2.  Levy noted the following with respect to Wegelin & Co."
For example, the Justice Department indicted Swiss bank Wegelin & Co. despite its having only a correspondent account in the U.S., because there was clear proof that the bank had marketed and assisted taxpayers in hiding money offshore, Levy said. Indictments create stiff sanctions that will help deter financial institutions from helping tax evaders, he said.
Levy added that in Wegelin's case, the U.S. government took control of the entire amount in the correspondent account, not just what could be traced to tax evasion. He explained that the DOJ believed that the entire Wegelin correspondent account was "facilitating" tax evasion. That was "a very creative theory" that "sent a message," according to Levy.
3.  John McDougal, an IRS attorney prominently involved in the offshore juggernaut, said that "the IRS has more summonses in the pipeline seeking taxpayer data from financial institutions."

4.  On a complaint "that many nonresident taxpayers may find they owe a lot of tax but otherwise lack fraud indicia," "McDougal responded that taxpayers with deficiencies larger than $1,500 might as well try the streamlined disclosure program provided they have no other risk factors."

5.  On the notion that Singapore is  "the next Switzerland," McDougal noted that Singapore "will sign the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, will sign an intergovernmental agreement with the United States, and is making tax evasion a predicate offense to money laundering."

1 comment:

  1. In the short term such indictments may prevent bankers from traveling internationally. In the long term such use of extraterritorial jurisdiction may result in US warrants for much more serious matters to be ignored by other countries, since US arrest warrants will begin to lose credibility.

    Furthermore, US banks in Miami, NY, LA have a significant foreign clientele in Latin America, China, and Russia. I have no inside information, but if UBS bankers were traveling to the US to do business with clients, I would not be surprised if one or more major US banks were sending bankers overseas. Those countries may follow the US example.

    My comments are about what may happen and are not meant to condone UBS' past activities.


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