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German “James Bond” busted for tax evasion

It seems like a plot from a blockbuster action movie. A man takes on a position as a deep undercover agent, a spy for Germany. He blends into the criminal underworld, gathering evidence to support the arrest and conviction of drug dealers, diamond smugglers and terrorists all over the world. He helps negotiate the release of hostages and stops the dumping of 41 barrels of toxic chemicals. He was so good at his job that he earned the nickname, the German “James Bond.”

But the ending of this movie is different than most blockbusters. He does not receive great fanfare upon his return. Instead, he is detained and accused of tax evasion. 

What went wrong? How does a super spy get caught for tax evasion? The Panama Papers listed the spy as owning a number of shell corporations. This, in combination with evidence gathered from a number of his aliases connected with foreign accounts that were not in compliance with tax law, resulted in allegations of tax evasion.

The spy argued that the accounts were not for personal gain, but instead used to channel funds used to negotiate the freedom of hostages. A piece in The Guardian further explains that the man contended he could not even mount a proper defense due to confidentiality agreements with the government.

Ultimately, the court was lenient. The evidence supported the tax evasion charges. However, instead of sentencing him to years and years in prison he is required to provide a donation to charity and is serving a two year suspension.

What can others learn from this? First, it is important to point out that this case involves a German in Germany. Tax law here in the United States is a bit different. Even so, taxpayers in the U.S. can learn from this case.

The main lesson is the fact that anyone can face charges of tax evasion. These accusations are not just used against criminals. Even those who are arguably local heroes can find themselves battling with their government over tax controversies.

If you do find yourself facing allegations of tax evasion, contact an attorney. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes these charges seriously. The agency will gather evidence to build a case against you. Defenses are available. An attorney can help to better ensure your legal rights are protected. 

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