Swiss Asset Manager Pleads Guilty For Aiding in Tax Evasion

by Bruce Givner on April 16, 2015

On March 31, a Swiss asset manager appeared before Judge Sidney H. Stein of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he pleaded guilty to charges that he aided his American taxpayer clients and others in schemes to conceal millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and evade taxes on income from the accounts.

Peter Amrein was accused of working with clients from 1998-2012 to hide undeclared accounts at various Swiss banks, including Wegelin & Co., once Switzerland’s largest bank until it was brought low by US conspiracy charges in January 2013. In collaboration with Edward Paltzer, a Zurich-based attorney who entered his own guilty plea in August 2013, Amrein helped clients set up sham foundations in Liechtenstein and other countries in order to conceal the ownership of their assets. This work continued after he moved from a Swiss bank to an asset management firm.

In 2008, after a US investigation of Swiss bank UBS AG was made public, Amrein assisted his clients relocate undeclared accounts after another Swiss bank informed him that it would close them in the wake of the UBS probe.

Prosecutors charged Amrein for helping route assets to clients in the US or in foreign jurisdictions, including the transfer of a $2.4 million account to Belize.

With Amrein’s sentencing scheduled for July 1, prosecutors have announced that, under his plea agreement, they will recommend consideration of any substantial assistance Amrein provides in cooperating with the government in its ongoing investigation.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Amrein’s guilty plea “is another example of individuals being held culpable, in addition to institutions, for their criminal violations of US tax laws.”

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