Californian Sent to Federal Prison for Failing to Disclose an Offshore Account

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Another One Bites the Dust

A California resident is the latest taxpayer to fall victim to the ever-expansive push by the Department of Justice to crack down on those who fail to report monies associated with offshore accounts.  Last week, San Mateo County resident Christopher Berg was sentenced to just over a year in federal prison for failing to report his overseas bank account and the money within it.  In addition to serving time behind bars, Berg paid in excess of $250,000 in back taxes in addition to penalties that also exceeded a quarter of a million dollars.

Berg’s Activity

For four years, starting in 2001, Berg funneled money into a Swiss bank account that he set up with UBS, a Swiss Bank, at their branch in San Francisco. Working as a consultant, Berg would shelter a portion of his income by making large deposits into his UBS account. During this period, prosecutors say that Berg transferred nearly $650,000 and spent it, and the interest earned on it, in Europe for travel and other luxury expenses.

UBS

This certainly isn’t the first time that a UBS customer has been targeted by the Department of Justice for this exact same practice. The truth is, UBS has been working with the IRS for years in an effort to save itself from prosecution.  Since 2009, UBS has been providing the IRS with information on United States taxpayers who hold accounts at the Swiss bank. And it only gets worse for taxpayers with overseas accounts. Foreign banks based in Switzerland and beyond are rushing to accept the same offer that UBS took advantage of to avoid their own prosecution.

What does this mean for you?

If you have money in a foreign bank that you have not declared, chances are high that your secret is not safe with your overseas bank. With Department of Justiceprosecutions of not only U.S. citizens but foreign banks sharply increasing, the chances that your financial institution will sell you out to save themselves jumps, just the same.  But, it’s not too late to do something about it. The IRS established a Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program that can keep you out of jail.  You would be much better off contacting us to discuss your options than wishing you had while sitting in a federal prison serving out a sentence for tax evasion. Our office can effectively remove the risk of criminal prosecution and keep this issue about money rather than jail time.  Come see us before the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS comes to see you!   Once a foreign bank turns in your account information and you subsequently become under audit or criminal investigation we can no longer prevent the very real risk of incarceration.

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