83 year old, Jacques Wajsfelner, who held Swiss bank accounts at Credit Suisse Group AG (Credit Suisse) and Wegelin & Co. pleaded guilty to hiding approximately $5.7 million from Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Mr. Wajsfelner admitted in a New York federal court that he failed to file Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Reports (FBAR). He will pay penalties of $2.84 million and restitution of $419,940. Under advisory guidelines, he faces 30 months to 37 months in prison at sentencing hearing on Dec. 20.
Mr. Wajsfelner’s former Swiss adviser, Beda Singenberger, was indicted last year on a charge of conspiring to help more than 60 U.S. taxpayers hide $184 million from the IRS in offshore accounts.
Wegelin, one of the oldest Swiss banks, was indicted February 2, 2012, on charges of helping U.S. taxpayers conceal more than $1.2 billion from the U.S. tax authorities. Credit Suisse, the second-largest Swiss bank, revealed in July 2011 that it was a target of a U.S. criminal probe. Additionally, seven current and former Credit Suisse bankers were indicted on charges of helping U.S. clients evade taxes through secret accounts.
Since 2009, the IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s office have charged more than 50 U.S. taxpayers and more than 20 offshore bankers, lawyers and advisers with tax crimes against the United States. “Over and over again, we see people who are privileged to live in this country evading their legal obligation to pay their fair share of taxes,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release.
Mr. Wajsfelner was born in Germany and fled the Nazis as a teenager, he became a U.S. citizen and worked in real estate and advertising throughout the New York and Boston areas. As part of his plea, Mr. Wajsfelner admitted that he held an account in his own name at Credit Suisse in 1995, and that Mr. Singenberger helped him open one there in 2006 in the name of Ample Lion Ltd. Records indicate that by 2007, the account held almost $5.7 million.
After Credit Suisse began exiting its U.S. banking operations in 2008, Mr. Wajsfelner transferred his assets to Wegelin, opening an undeclared account. Court records reveal that this account was valued at almost $5.5 million at the end of 2010, and almost $4 million at the end of 2010.
Mr. Wajsfelner admitted failing to file FBARs for six years, from 2006 to 2011. “I knowingly and willfully failed to file FBARs with the IRS which would have disclosed the existence” of the Wegelin account, he told U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald. “I knowingly failed to pay taxes to and on the funds in these accounts.” As part of Mr. Wajsfelner’s plea agreement, prosecutors said they wouldn’t charge him for lies he told IRS agents.
Senior U.S. federal judge, Naomi Reice Buchawald, released Mr. Wajsfelner on a $50,000 recognizance bond, ordered him to remain in the continental U.S. and to surrender three weapons; a 12-gauge shotgun, a snub-nose .38 revolver and a Smith & Wesson .38 magnum revolver.