Washington (April 1, 2002) -- A federal court in San Francisco has issued an order authorizing the Internal Revenue Service to serve a summons on VISA International for offshore credit card records.

The court acted just two days after the Justice Department filed a petition for approval of a "John Doe" summons, which permits the IRS to obtain information bout possible tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown.

 The IRS suspects people have been committing tax fraud by diverting income and assets overseas and spending the money in the United States by using credit, charge or debit cards issued by banks in more than 30 countries, including Switzerland, Isle of Mann, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Singapore, Panama, Bermuda and numerous Caribbean nations.

The summons approved by the court will seek information including names, addresses, social security numbers, and telephone numbers of the VISA cardholders.

In response to a similar suit filed in Miami, MasterCard has already produced over 1.7 million records, involving over 230,000 accounts, in response to a John Doe summons.

American Express last week agreed to turn over records relating to people who may be subject to U. S. income taxes and who have credit card accounts with addresses in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands. According to the IRS, that information will be used in civil audits and criminal investigations.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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