The US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Tuesday charged six foreign nationals and a Swiss company with conspiracy to evade tax payment. The entities were booked for attempting to defraud Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by helping three large-value US taxpayer-clients conceal more than $60 million in income and assets held in undeclared, offshore bank accounts and to evade U.S. income taxes, the DoJ said in a statement. The indictment was unsealed by Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and US Attorney for Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.
According to the indictment, from 2009 to 2014, Ivo Bechtiger, Bernhard Lampert, Peter Rüegg, Roderic Sage, Rolf Schnellmann, Daniel Wälchli and Switzerland-based Allied Finance Trust AG allegedly defrauded the IRS by concealing income and assets of certain US taxpayer clients with undeclared bank accounts located at Privatbank IHAG (IHAG), a Swiss private bank in Zurich, and elsewhere, DoJ informed.
"One such U.S. customer, Wayne Chinn, pleaded guilty to his participation in the so-called ‘Singapore Solution,’ forfeited more than $2 million to the United States, and awaits sentencing for his admitted crime,” US Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
"In order to assist those clients, the defendants and others allegedly concocted a plan and used a scheme called the “Singapore Solution.” The indicted frauds used the scheme to conceal the bank accounts of the US-based clients, their assets, and income from US authorities, the DoJ statement explained. The defendants and others "allegedly conspired to transfer more than $60 million from undeclared IHAG bank accounts of the three U.S. clients."
The transactions were carried out through a series of nominee bank accounts in Hong Kong and other locations before transferring the funds in small amounts to newly opened accounts at IHAG. Additionally, the alleged fraudsters also paid off several high-level officials at IHAG to ensure the smooth functioning of the scam.
Indictment Unsealed Against Six Individuals and Foreign Financial Service Firm for Tax Evasion Conspiracy— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) September 28, 2021
Defendants Allegedly Used ‘Singapore Solution’ to Enable U.S. Clients to Evade Taxes on Over $60 Million Hidden Offshorehttps://t.co/IxndDKeVVj
Talking about the case, Deputy Goldberg said, “Prosecuting offshore tax evasion remains one of the Tax Division’s highest priorities." He also warned potential tax evaders saying that those who are planning to "design and execute strategies to assist their evasion – should know that the Tax Division and IRS have the investigative resources and expertise to unravel even the most elaborate schemes."
If and when convicted, the defendants will face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Additionally, they will also be listed under supervised release and monetary penalties.