A Swiss judge sentenced a German IT technician to 3 years prison for stealing thousands of client records from Julius Baer bank. Under Swiss law, he could be released on probation in as little as 6 months. (We suspect that many people would spend the full 3 years in prison for a million dollars.)
According to published reports, the unnamed IT worker stole thousands of names of account holders while doing contract work for Swiss bank Julius Baer. Normally, identity thieves steal account data hoping to loot accounts. Not in this case. The 54 man said he was offered 1.1 million euros ($1,470,000.00 USD) for the information by German tax authorities.
While the Swiss may have arrested the man, they did so long after the damage was done. Let me explain.
There is a global crackdown on unreported foreign accounts. In the United States, taxpayers are required to report their offshore financial holdings annually on a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR for short). Failure to file an FBAR is a crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison and huge civil penalties. (Need more information about FBAR filings? See our post FBAR 101.)
There is a growing trend for bank workers to steal foreign account data. As tax authorities scramble to bring in more revenue, the market for stolen account data grows. Although the United States does not solicit stolen account information from identity thieves, FBAR non filers are still at risk. Why? Because the U.S. exchanges offshore account data with other countries.
The IRS is running a tax amnesty program called the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program for those with missing FBARs and unreported foreign accounts. For people with small accounts or who can prove their actions were not willful, much better options may be available.
No one should believe that their offshore account won’t be found by the IRS. With such high stakes and complex regulations, anyone with past due FBAR should consult with a tax lawyer specializing in offshore reporting issues.
The tax lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped many taxpayers with a wide variety of offshore tax reporting services including FBAR preparation, FATCA compliance, foreign real estate transactions and more. For more information, contact attorney Bethany Kroes at or by telephone at (414) 223-0464. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl is the preferred legal services provider for FBAR compliance to the CPAmerica organization of accounting firms. We represent clients throughout the world and United States. Have questions? Call us without obligation or use the search engine feature of our Due Diligence blog. We have hundreds of helpful articles.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California.
Post by Brian Mahany, Esq.