The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is alleging a massive tax fraud scheme by two European bankers. They have been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to defraud the IRS pursuant to 18 U.S.C 371. According to the indictment among other things Bradley Birkenfeld, a former USB banker and US citizen, and Mario Staggl, a Liechtenstein citizen and resident, assisted an unnamed United States real estate developer in evading United States income taxes on approximately $200 million of assets held in offshore bank accounts.
The defendants allegedly committed tax fraud by falsifying Swiss Bank documents, by falsifying IRS Forms W-8BEN, by failing to issue IRS Forms 1099, by failing to prepare IRS Forms W-9, and by failing to adhere to the terms of the Qualified Intermediary Agreement with the IRS. The Qualified Intermediary Agreement was a voluntary agreement made between the Swiss Bank and the IRS in 2001 to which the Swiss Bank agreed to identify and document any customers who received reportable United States source income, as well as file appropriate tax documents with the IRS. This agreement was a departure from previous Swiss Bank secrecy laws which concealed bank information for US clients from the IRS. The defendants helped their US clients conceal their ownership of the accounts therefore evading the Swiss Banks obligation to report that information to the IRS.
According to the press release issued by the Department of Justice Tax Division the defendants marketed their services to wealthy United States clients by claiming that Swiss and Liechtenstein bank secrecy was impenetrable and could help their clients evade United States income taxes. The conspirators allegedly assisted their US clients in preparing false IRS documents, advised their clients to destroy any records of offshore bank accounts, and facilitated the filing of false IRS tax returns.