Saturday, August 24, 2013
Wall Street Journal: Offshore-Adviser Plea Marks a Shift in Tax Crackdown, by Laura Saunders:
A guilty plea by a high-level Swiss adviser who helped U.S. taxpayers
hide money abroad marks a new phase of the government's campaign
against secret offshore accounts, experts say. "Now it's clear that the U.S. will make deals with advisers who come
clean, not just with individual taxpayers and banks," said Jeffrey
Neiman, a former government prosecutor now in private practice in Ft.
On Aug. 16, Edgar Paltzer, 57 years old, a Swiss lawyer formerly with
the Zurich firm of Niederer, Kraft & Frey, pleaded guilty in federal
court in New York to a single count of conspiracy. He faces up to five
years in prison plus fines, but experts said, because of his
cooperation, he is likely to receive a far shorter prison sentence, or
none at all. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2014. ...
The case puts further pressure on U.S. taxpayers holding secret offshore
accounts, because advisers might opt to protect themselves by turning
in their clients. "If I were one of [Mr. Paltzer's] clients, I'd be
having a heart attack," said Edward Robbins, a criminal tax lawyer with
Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez in Los Angeles.
The case also expands government scrutiny to assets stored in bank
vaults, according to William Sharp, a lawyer with Sharp Kemm, a firm
based in Tampa and Zurich. The court ordered that five UBS AG vaults in
Zurich controlled by Mr. Paltzer be sealed. Such vaults can be used to
store assets such as gold, art or jewelry that often don't have to be
declared to the Internal Revenue Service. However, the vaults holding
them are usually tied to bank accounts that should be, say experts.