William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘Banking in Switzerland’

One of the 10 Largest Swiss Private Banks Enters Into Non-Prosecution Agreement with DOJ

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2015

DOJ announced that BSI SA, one of the 10 largest private banks in Switzerland, is the first bank to reach a resolution under the Department of Justice’s Swiss Bank Program.  106 Swiss banks have sought non-prosecution agreements.  read the details at International Financial Law Prof Blog.

image from www.lexisnexis.comThe International Financial Law Professor Blogger William Byrnes is the author of Money Laundering, Asset Forfeiture and Recovery, and Compliance- A Global Guide is an eBook designed to provide the compliance officer, BSA counsel, and government agent with accurate analyses of the AML/CTF Financial and Legal Intelligence, law and practice in the nations of the world with the most current references and resources.  Special topic chapters will assist the compliance officer design and maintain effective risk management programs.  Over 100 country and topic experts from financial institutions, government agencies, law, audit and risk management firms have contributed analysis to develop this practical compliance guide.

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Offshore Swiss Bank Indictments Follow Voluntary Disclosure Program

Posted by William Byrnes on April 1, 2011

Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the potential consequences of not playing by the rules; it is important to constantly keep in mind the balance between providing the most efficient and effective services to clients and crossing the line into illegal territory. Clients may not realize the harsh penalties associated with offshore activity, and although when performed by expert planners under the proper circumstances, that some offshore transactions may be legal and beneficial, it is the job of informed wealth managers to keep clients abreast of information that is useful in making long-term financial decisions.

Four bankers at an international bank incorporated and with its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, with offices worldwide, including New York City and Miami, were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia and charged with conspiring with other Swiss bankers to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Wednesday.

According to the indictment, the international bank’s managers and bankers engaged in illegal cross-border banking that was designed to assist U.S. customers evade their income taxes by opening and maintaining secret bank accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks. As of the fall of 2008, the international bank maintained thousands of secret accounts for customers in the United States with as much as $3 billion in total assets under management in those accounts.

The Justice Department announced the scheme dates back to 1953 and involved two generations of U.S. tax evaders including U.S. customers who inherited secret accounts at the international bank.

The indictment asserts that four foreign individuals, members of senior management, bankers and others assisted U.S. taxpayers in evading their U.S. taxes through the use of secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators solicited U.S. customers to open secret accounts because Swiss bank secrecy would permit them to conceal from the IRS their ownership of accounts at the bank and other Swiss banks. It is further alleged that they provided unlicensed and unregistered banking services and investment advice to customers in the United States in person while on travel to here, including at the international bank’s representative office in New York City and by mailings, e-mail and telephone calls to and from the United States.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI


Posted in Compliance, Money Laundering | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Wikileaks To Release Details of Secret Swiss Accounts

Posted by William Byrnes on March 1, 2011

Wikileaks is set to release confidential Swiss banking documents, and although the scope of information included in the documents isn’t yet clear, the release could pave the way for a new IRS surge against tax evaders.  Similar disclosures by bank insiders were at the heart of the Justice Department’s UBS investigation.   This most recent leak came from a former senior private banker and chief operating officer of Julius Baer’s Caribbean operation.   He’s currently on trial in Switzerland for allegedly leaking client documents in 2005.

… the statute of limitations for criminal tax offenses is generally three years, but there are a number of exceptions that extend the statute to six years, including “willfully attempting to evade or defeat any tax.” Leaked documents from prior to 2002 would reveal activities that would generally fall outside the six-year statute of limitations; however, the six year statute only begins to run on the day the last affirmative act is committed by the defendant, so criminal prosecution of accountholders revealed by the leak may still be viable.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the IRS’s offshore enforcement efforts in Advisor’s Journal, see Offshore’s Limited Shelf Life (CC 10-47)IRS Proposed FATCA Guidance Expands Offshore Compliance Initiatives (CC 10-52), and IRS Planning New Voluntary Disclosure Program for Offshore Assets (CC 10-118).

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Passive Foreign Investment Company Special Disclosure Tax

Posted by William Byrnes on February 27, 2011

A significant number of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Practice cases (remember the Swiss Bank Accounts) involve Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) investments.  A lack of historical information on the cost basis and holding period of many PFIC investments, the Service notes, may make it difficult for taxpayers to prepare statutory PFIC computations and for the Internal Revenue Service to verify them.  As a result, resolution of many Disclosure Practice cases are said to be unduly delayed.  Therefore, for purposes of this initiative, the Internal Revenue Service is offering taxpayers an alternative to the statutory PFIC computation that will resolve PFIC issues on a basis that is consistent with the Mark to Market (MTM) methodology authorized in Internal Revenue Code section 1296 but will not require complete reconstruction of historical data.

Posted in Tax Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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