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One man puts a dent in tax evasions

The subject of foreign bank accounts has always seemed above my pay grade.  I do not proclaim to have any vast knowledge of the laws that relate to the foreign bank accounts.  I think the complexity is similar to if you move out of the country.  The laws are complex and fraught with the danger of a lengthy prison sentence.

That said, I should think a commendation should go out to any whistle blower.  I am not a fan of people who are disloyal; however, it takes courage to stand up for what you believe.  Now, I am by no means absolving Mr. Birkenfeld.  I am sure that Mr. Birkenfeld is guilty of many bad acts, he helped hide millions of untaxed/under taxed dollars.  But to Mr. Birkenfeld, thanks for doing your part, you came clean and helped destroy a lucrative tax evasion scheme.

Birkenfeld, 44, was at the center of a U.S. government crackdown that has all but eliminated the ability of Americans to conceal their wealth in offshore banks.A U.S. citizen, bachelor and the son of a Boston-area neurosurgeon, Birkenfeld spent 15 years working for banks in Switzerland, making a cozy living for himself and tax-free profits for his clients.

Swiss banker Bradley Birkenfeld would do just about anything for the wealthy Americans who entrusted him with millions of dollars they wanted to hide from the Internal Revenue Service.

He’d help them set up phony companies to conceal their deposits. He’d give them credit cards to access their hidden cash. On one occasion, he converted a U.S. client’s money into diamonds, then smuggled the gems across the Atlantic in a toothpaste tube.

Birkenfeld has acknowledged that he told his U.S. customers how to avoid IRS detection. He told them to keep cash and jewelry in Swiss safety deposit boxes. If the U.S. clients needed to make a withdrawal by check, they were told to report the proceeds as loans from UBS. All paper banking records were to be destroyed.

Court documents from a series of recent cases identified steps that other Swiss bankers took on behalf of their clients. One unidentified UBS banker paid a $45,000 bribe to a Swiss government official to learn whether his U.S. client was under investigation. In another case, a Swiss banker sent his father to the United States to hand-deliver $5,000 cash to a client at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to court documents.

Those actions, detailed by Birkenfeld in court documents, were part of a coordinated — and illegal — effort by his employer at the time, Swiss banking giant UBS, to help wealthy U.S. clients evade taxes. The scheme began unwinding in 2007 and reached a milestone this month when the IRS concluded an amnesty program in which more than 7,500 Americans voluntarily disclosed their overseas accounts.

If you have money that is untaxed outside the United States, you live in fear.  Amnesty has ended and the US government is actively and aggressively prosecuting violators.  If you have this type of a tax problem, contact legal counsel.  You need a lawyer that has a solid understanding of how the IRS prosecutes defendants.

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