Thursday, October 21, 2021

Reader Request for Pro Bono Local Counsel in ED VA (Alexandria) (10/21/21)

Anthony Verni of Verni Tax Law, here, has asked that I post the following information and request about his need for local counsel in an FBAR collection case (nonwillful penalty) in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Anthony is serving pro bono and seeks a local counsel willing to serve pro bono as well.

I am a New Jersey Attorney who is interested in representing a husband and wife, who are Virginia Residents pro bono. The suit, which was initially filed in California, but transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks to reduce FBAR assessments to a judgement. Treasury asserted the Non-Willful FBAR Penalty against both the husband and wife for multiple years, since the taxpayers exceeded the maximum amounts in the mitigation guidelines.

The Taxpayer and his spouse entered the OVDI in 2014 and submitted all the necessary reports, amended returns and penalty worksheet. Unfortunately, the law firm (Hogan Lovells) and accounting firm committed serious errors. From what I can glean, no one ever reviewed the FBARS and other filings, prior to filing. It also appears that very little was done in terms of follow up. Sometime in the latter part of 2016, the Law Firm withdrew from representing the Taxpayers. The Taxpayers subsequently hired the Anaford Law Firm out of Zurich, who in turn assigned the matter to one of its U.S. Attorneys, Milan K. Patel.

From my review it appears that the Anaford Law Firm did little, if anything, to either advance or protects the taxpayers’ rights. In March of 2017 the IRS removed the taxpayers from the OVDI and thereafter conducted an examination of the Taxpayers.  In addition, Mr. Patel was subsequently indicted and convicted on securities fraud and is currently serving a 15 month sentence.

In July of 2018 the IRS assessed Non Willful FBAR Penalties against each of the Taxpayers in the amount of $421,000.

There are a number of issues that both the service and the taxpayers never addressed including the number of accounts and the propriety of assessing penalties against the Spouse, who neither had an interest in nor was a signatory to any of the Foreign Financial Accounts. I need to retain local counsel on a pro bono basis to permit me to file a motion pro hac vice and represent these two taxpayers.  The case is captioned as United States of America v. Waheeb G. Antakly and Maria T. Antakly: Case Number: 1:21-cv-00801 (LO/JFA). The case is venued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria Division). The answer is due by the 25th of October, and as such, is time sensitive. I had asked the taxpayers to contact the DOJ Attorney handling this matter to see if the government will grant a short extension.

My reason for wanting to represent these taxpayers is based upon their current financial condition and based upon the poor representation they received thus far. I typically will handle one to two tax cases per year on a pro bono basis. This case caught my attention since it has novel issues pertaining to the mitigation guidelines and whether the taxpayer’s spouse, in fact, had an interest in or was signatory to any of the foreign financial accounts.

I can be reached at (561)531-8809 or by email at Anthony@vernitaxlaw.com.  I sure would appreciate it if someone could assist in this worthwhile effort. If I am unable to secure local counsel I will be unable to assist the taxpayers.

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