As the Department of Justice continues its efforts to prosecute individuals involved in offshore tax evasion, approximately two dozen indicted Swiss bankers remain fugitives in Switzerland.
A former Swiss banking executive has pleaded guilty in a Florida court to charges of helping U.S. clients evade taxes. Hansruedi Schumacher, who cooperated with the U.S. government and testified in another prominent offshore prosecution, will face sentencing later this year.
The former head of UBS AG (UBSN)'s global wealth-management business, Raoul Weil, referred to accounts hidden by U.S. clients from the Internal Revenue Service as "toxic waste," at his tax-conspiracy trial.
The U.S. has seen uninterrupted success in its pursuit of undisclosed offshore accounts held by U.S. taxpayers. It began in 2008 with a key court victory against UBS, which then went on to pay the IRS $780 million. Swiss banking was turned upside down after UBS released thousands of Americans' account information to the IRS. Many other banks did the same, out of fear of prosecution. Recently, Credit Suisse plead guilty and paid a $2.6 billion fine.
An investigation into whether Zurich-based UBS had been aiding German clients evade taxes ended on Tuesday with a $403 million settlement, the largest fine ever paid to a country by a Swiss lender. While the Swiss lender was able to put to rest allegations in Germany, it is still likely to face challenges elsewhere.
Ty Warner, the billionaire responsible for the creation of the popular Beanie Babies toy is hoping that a federal judge will show mercy and sentence him to probation rather than prison for tax evasion. The 69-year-old acknowledged that he failed to report millions of dollars of interest income from an overseas Swiss bank account as he pleaded guilty to a single count of felony tax evasion in October.
Since UBS agreed to a $780 million penalty by U.S. authorities, the United States has been attempting to convince other Swiss banks to voluntarily aid the American government in finding its tax evaders. By using UBS as an example, the help of an agreement with the Swiss government, and a disclosure program, it seems that the United States is well on its way into cracking the armor that is the legendary Swiss bank secrecy laws.
Raoul Weil, a former UBS banker who was charged by US authorities five years ago for helping rich Americans evade taxes with the aid of secret Swiss bank accounts, has agreed to stand trial in the US after being arrested in Italy. US authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Weil in early 2009.
The IRS's heated pursuit of individuals with offshore accounts is becoming more aggressive by the day. With tactics like John Doe Summonses, the feds took aim at Swiss banking secrecy and delivered a fatal blow. This war is hardly new.
Who would've thought that someone able to create such sweet and loveable toys would also plead guilty to tax evasion? That's just what millionaire businessman, Ty Warner, the creator of Beanie Babies, did on Wednesday.