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Boston Criminal Tax Lawyer Examines Amnesty for Offshore Banks

Offshore Account Update

Posted on November 13, 2015 |

Société Générale Private Banking is one of many offshore banks that believed it could potentially be prosecuted by U.S. authorities for its role in helping U.S.-affiliated accountholders to avoid following tax laws. Banks like Société Générale Private Banking have been given the opportunity to participate in an amnesty program called the Swiss Bank Program.

There are different categories of financial institutions created by the Swiss Bank Program. Those already under investigation when the program was created were called Category 1 banks and were barred from participation in the amnesty scheme. Société Générale Private Banking was a Category 2 bank, which means it knew it was likely in violation of the law and could be prosecuted in the future, but was not being investigated yet.

Category 2 banks can avoid criminal charges through voluntarily reporting on their wrongdoing and entering into non-prosecution agreements. Société Générale Private Banking has entered into such an agreement. This is bad news for accountholders because banks only get amnesty when they turn over info that could lead individuals and businesses with offshore funds to be prosecuted. If your bank has given your information to the IRS and you are concerned you could face an investigation or prosecution, you need to contact a Boston criminal tax lawyer today.

Accountholder Info Turned Over By Banks

The Swiss Bank Program gives banks a guarantee they won’t face criminal charges provided they comply with the terms of non-prosecution deals and they pay fines.

Société Générale Private Banking has agreed to pay more than $17 million as part of its deal. It is also going to be giving up information on both its employees and customers. The bank can’t just pay the fine and be done -- it has to comply with all treaty requests for information and it has to provide significant amounts of detail about:

• Employees who managed, supervised or assisted with offshore accounts related to U.S. individuals
• U.S. individuals and entities with offshore accounts, and the relationship of these individuals to the accounts
• Balances in offshore accounts held by U.S. accountholders
• Methods used to fund offshore accounts and transactions undertaken by U.S.-affiliated accountholders

Essentially, the bank has to turn over the details that are needed to go after bank employees who facilitated tax evasion and accountholders who did not report their offshore funds or pay taxes on them.

When the bank turns over details about individuals and an investigation is launched into those individuals, it becomes impossible for the accountholders to enter into amnesty programs like the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). Like with banks, amnesty is only open to people not already being investigated. OVDP carries significant penalties, but the financial loss is usually smaller for participants than the loss of funds if prosecuted. OVDP also eliminates the possibility of an actual criminal prosecution and jail time.

A criminal tax lawyer in Boston can help you determine if you’re still eligible for amnesty programs that protect you from charges. If not, your attorney can help you respond to an investigation and any charges you face for violating U.S. tax law. Do not wait -- call Kevin Thorn today.

For a consultation, contact Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner, at ket@thornlawgroup.com or (617) 692-2989

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