(Bloomberg News) Federal prosecutors in New York accused a Swiss financial advisor of conspiring with more than 60 U.S. taxpayers to hide more than $184 million in offshore accounts.
The indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court charges Beda Singenberger, 57, of Zurich with a single count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison term of five years. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Singenberger took part in an 11-year-long scheme to help U.S. clients open hidden accounts to evade a probe by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
According to the indictment, Singenberger set up phony "foundations" and "establishments" under the laws of Liechtenstein and fake corporations under the laws of Hong Kong to conceal the ownership of accounts established at various Swiss banks and the income those accounts generated.
When it became public in 2008 that UBS AG, one of the banks where Singenberger allegedly helped his clients hide their accounts, was under investigation by the U.S., he helped move the accounts to other Swiss banks, prosecutors said.
In 2009, the U.S. criminally charged UBS with aiding tax evasion by U.S. clients. Zurich-based UBS avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it fostered tax evasion and giving the IRS data on more than 250 accounts to avoid criminal prosecution. The bank later turned over data on another 4,450 accounts. The U.S. dropped its criminal case against UBS in October.
Bharara's office said Singenberger isn't in U.S. custody. A call placed to his Zurich-based Sinco Treuhand AG after business hours wasn't answered.
The case is U.S. v. Singenberger, 11CR620, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).