The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service have filed charges against seven individuals who collectively hid over $100 million in secret bank accounts at the Swiss bank UBS.
Two of the defendants, Jules Robbin and Federico Hernandez, pleaded guilty Thursday and agreed to pay civil penalties of $20.8 million and $4.4 million respectively. Charges also were unsealed Thursday against five other defendants: Kenneth Heller, Sybil Nancy Upham, Richard Werdiger, Ernest Vogliano and Shmuel Sternfeld.
Four of the defendants Upham, Heller, Vogliano and Sternfeld removed their assets from UBS shortly after the publication of media reports in May 2008 that the governments criminal investigation of UBS might result in the disclosure of their unreported accounts to the Department of Justice. They moved tens of millions of dollars collectively from UBS to smaller, lower-profile Swiss and Liechtenstein banks that did not have offices in the U.S.
Two of the other defendants Upham and Vogliano repatriated funds from their UBS bank accounts to the U.S. by traveling or having a close family member travel from New York to UBSs offices in Zurich, Switzerland, to pick up hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash or travelers checks and then return to the U.S.
The rich are not different, said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. Multimillionaires with secret Swiss bank accounts have to pay their taxes just like everyone else. It is that simple.
Separately, an eighth former UBS client, Paul Zabczuk, a resident of The Woodlands, Texas, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday. Sentencing has been set for June 22. Zabczuk remains free on $1 million bail pending sentencing, where he faces up to three years in prison.
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