The Department Justice unveiled charges Thursday against seven U.S. clients of the Swiss branch of UBS AG for allegedly hiding income and assets from the IRS.
According to the indictments, Jules Robbins and Federico Hernandez pleaded guilty to five counts each of subscribing to false federal income tax returns. Robbins, who owns a watch distribution company, and Hernandez, a financial adviser, face up to 15 years in prison and agreed to pay civil penalties.
The DOJ also unsealed charges against five other individuals — Kenneth Heller, Sybil Nancy Upham, Richard Werdiger, Ernest Vogliano and Shmuel Sternfeld. All five defendants have surrendered to police and are expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
In February 2009, UBS entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, admitting guilt on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding the IRS. As part of the agreement, the bank provided the United States with the identities and account information for about 4,450 U.S. customers of UBS. The bank also paid $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution.
In recent years, the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the Internal Revenue Service have stepped up its efforts to find and prosecute offshore tax evasion. The U.S. had hoped to obtain the information from UBS for use in prosecuting tax dodgers.
That the DOJ chose to unseal the indictments Thursday — Tax Day — is not too surprising: a recent study published in the Virginia Tax Review found the Justice Department tends to tout its successful prosecutions of tax fraud cases right around April 15 each year.
The individual indictments and criminal informations are embedded below.