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FBAR Failure Leads Connecticut Executive to Plead Guilty to $8.4 Million Tax Evasion

Prosecutors announced Jan. 20 that a Connecticut business executive has pleaded guilty to willfully failing to report offshore bank accounts to the IRS.

Tax Evasion, Offshore Account filing taxes with the IRSAs part of his plea, which was entered Jan. 16 2015 before Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, George Landegger of Ridgefield, Conn., agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than $4.2 million and more than $71,000 in back taxes.

According to the charges in a criminal information, Landegger maintained undeclared accounts at an unidentified Swiss bank based in Zurich from at least the early 2000s until 2010. His undeclared assets reached a high value of over $8.4 million in that period.

If you have a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, or other type of foreign financial account, exceeding certain thresholds, the Bank Secrecy Act may require you to report the account yearly to the Department of Treasury by electronically filing a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

According to prosecutors, a representative of the Swiss bank referred Landegger to a Zurich-based attorney, Edgar Paltzer, to form a sham entity to hold his undeclared accounts. In April 2009, Landegger met with the bank representative and another individual to discuss the future of his undeclared accounts in light of the news about a U.S. investigation into hidden accounts at another Swiss bank, UBS AG, according to the charges.

At the meeting, prosecutors said, Landegger affirmatively rejected the possibility of disclosing his undeclared accounts to the IRS through its Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program or otherwise. Instead, he shifted the assets out of Switzerland into a new, declared account in Canada and an account kept by another person in Hong Kong.

“The benefits of citizenship or residency in the United States come with certain obligations, including, as George Landegger well knew, the legal requirement to report foreign bank accounts,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “He will now pay for his illegal conduct.”

About Anthony Verni

Anthony N. Verni is a Tax Attorney and Certified Public Accountant with over 20 years’ experience practicing before the Internal Revenue Service.Mr. Verni’s practice is focused on representing Expatriate and other U.S Taxpayers who have criminal and civil tax issues related to offshore tax evasion, money laundering, failure to file income tax returns, failure to report offshore income, failure to file FBAR reports and other tax related compliance and reporting concerns. Mr. Verni also represents individuals and businesses in connection with tax controversies involving income, estate and gift and employment taxes.
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