Washington DC Tax Evasion Attorney Examines Amnesty for Banks
As of July 2015, 15 foreign banks have entered into non-prosecution agreements with the United States Department of Justice. These foreign banks have had to agree to pay fines because of their role in helping U.S. affiliated accountholders to hide offshore accounts and to avoid paying taxes due on offshore income.
The DOJ has agreed these banks will not face criminal charges -- but there is a catch that goes beyond fines. The banks have to turn over details on accountholders in the U.S.
The 15th bank to come to an agreement was Privatbank Von Graffenried AG. Individuals with accounts at this institution or at any of the other offshore banks that turned over information could find themselves facing criminal charges. A Washington DC tax evasion attorney can provide invaluable advice to those who fear they may become the target of an investigation, as well as to individuals who are already dealing with IRS action.
Fifteen Banks Turn Over Info on Offshore Accountholders
The Department of Justice and the IRS aimed to entice offshore financial institutions to voluntarily report their banks’ role in tax evasion scams. A program called the Swiss Bank Program was created. Banks that were not under investigation yet, but that feared future criminal prosecution, could come forward to participate in the Swiss Bank Program.
In exchange for paying fines, explaining their role in evading taxes, providing detailed accountholder information and cooperating with authorities, the banks would be freed from the threat of a criminal case.
When the Swiss Bank Program was created, the IRS and DOJ expected that 80 banks total would participate. With 15 banks now entering into agreements, almost 1/5 of the expected goal has been reached. The first 15 banks to sign non-prosecution agreements have collectively paid more than $268 million in fines.
When Privatbank Von Graffenried AG became the 15th bank to sign a deal, it paid $287,000. Privatbank Von Graffenried AG joined other financial institutions, including Société Générale Private Banking SA, Bank Sparhafen Zurich AG, Berner Kantonalbank AG, Bank Linth LLB AG, and Ersparniskasse Schaffhausen AG.
All of these banks have provided comprehensive details about the owners of U.S.-affiliated accounts (both individuals and entities), as well as the money in those offshore accounts. The information provided by the banks is enough for U.S. authorities to begin looking into accountholders and, in many cases, build a case against them for tax crimes.
U.S. accountholders who are already under investigation may be excluded from participation in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), which was created to allow accountholders avoid prosecution and limit their own penalties by coming forward voluntary.
If you want to see if you can participate in OVDP or if you are under investigation by the IRS and you need help, contact a Kevin Thorn, a DC tax evasion attorney, for assistance today. An attorney can provide guidance and advice on OVDP penalties and can help you deal with the IRS if you are facing accusations of wrongdoing.