A New Jersey client of HSBC Holdings Plc pleaded guilty to charges that he hid as much as $4.7 million through Swiss and Indian accounts not declared to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Sanjay Sethi, 52, who owns SanVision Technology Inc., conspired with HSBC bankers in New York, London and Geneva to hide assets from the IRS, he admitted yesterday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey. Sethi will pay a $2.37 million penalty for failing to file reports required for foreign accounts.
“Sethi and his co-conspirators used nominee and shell companies formed in tax-haven jurisdictions and elsewhere to conceal the defendant’s ownership and control of assets and income from the IRS,” according to his charging document.
HSBC’s Geneva-based private bank is one of at least 11 Swiss firms under investigation by U.S. prosecutors investigating offshore tax evasion. HSBC’s Swiss unit gave lists of employees to aid the U.S. probe, a spokesman said in April. Last month, London-based HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, agreed to pay $1.92 billion to settle U.S. probes of money laundering in the biggest such accord ever.
Medard Schoenmaeckers, a Zurich-based spokesman for HSBC’s private bank, declined to comment on the court decision.
Since 2009, at least 50 U.S. clients of offshore banks and more than two dozen bankers, lawyers and advisers have been charged in a crackdown on offshore tax evasion by the U.S.
Sethi, of Watchung, New Jersey, is one of several HSBC clients charged with opening undeclared accounts through the bank’s NRI division, which were marketed to U.S. citizens of Indian descent.
“He accepts full responsibility for what he did, and he is happy to get this matter behind him,” said Sethi’s attorney, Amy Walsh of Kostelanetz & Fink LLP of New York.
New Jersey businessman Vaibhav Dahake pleaded guilty in April 2011 to conspiring with five HSBC bankers to hide his Indian accounts from the IRS. His plea came four days after a U.S. judge in California allowed the IRS to serve a so-called John Doe summons on HSBC for information about Americans who may have banked in India to hide accounts from U.S. tax authorities.