Swiss tax-cheat adviser blows his US clients' cover

Hiding money in offshore bank accounts was already getting harder, but if you used this accountant, you had no hope.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 14, 2013 12:18PM
Image: Tax form (© Brian Hagiwara/Brand X/Corbis)Prosecutors in the U.S. say Swiss financial adviser Beda Singerberger helped 60 U.S. residents hide $184 million for more than a decade -- and was undone by his own hubris.

According to Bloomberg News, Singerberger mailed a list of his American clients to someone in the U.S. -- who or why isn't clear -- which "somehow wound up in the hands of federal authorities." His other blunder was coming up with catchy names for the offshore accounts he set up, such as Real Cool Investments Ltd. and Wanderlust Foundation, that would be red flags for even the most junior of prosecutors.

Retired U.S. Army surgeon Michael Canale, 83-year-old Jacques Wajsfelner and cancer researcher Michael Reiss are among the Singerberger clients nailed by prosecutors, who have "mined that list to great effect," as  Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Levy told Bloomberg.

Having a Swiss bank account is no longer a sure-fire way for Americans to hide their money from the prying eyes of Uncle Sam. Last year, the IRS gave Bradley Birkenfeld a $104 million whistle-blower award, its largest ever, for helping recover billions in unpaid taxes that had been hidden in the European country.

UBS (UBS), Birkenfeld's former employer, paid $780 million in 2009 to avoid criminal prosecution and turned over account information to U.S. authorities on more than 4,500 American clients. What makes Birkenfeld remarkable is that he served time in prison for helping a California developer evade taxes.

The Birkenfeld payment set off such a panic among wealthy Americans that 14,000 of them joined a tax amnesty program that helped the federal government recover more than $5 billion in taxes, according to The New York Times.
One person who may not be losing much sleep over his blunder is Singerberger. According to Bloomberg, he has not made an appearance in a U.S. court and may not have to because the U.S. and Switzerland don't have an extradition treaty.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Mar 14, 2013 12:28PM
Yet more cases where BANKING gets a fine and avoid jail time. Money CAN buy "get out of jail free"
Mar 14, 2013 3:16PM
You never hide anything in a bank account.  Eventually, you are going to get caught.   You use a safe deposit box .    In many countries, not even the government can open a safe deposit box.  People also use Muslim Banks in the Middle East since they are not tied into the U.S. banking system.   In any case, why be a cheat?    You are constantly looking over your shoulder.  Pay the taxes and forget it.
Mar 14, 2013 12:38PM
Always was that way..Didn't you ever play Monopoly..Whose picture was on"get out of jail" card ?
Mar 14, 2013 1:44PM

Yes Rhino...We read it all.....The Rich, including Bankers, because many are Accountants;

Have found different ways to cheat the System...

Since time has began...Especially where Money is involved or a "Ferengi Profit", is to be had.

Mar 14, 2013 9:16PM
Good! these people were betting against the home team, and we all know what happened to Pete Rose, when he did that! If you hate your country that bad, just get out!
Mar 14, 2013 9:32PM

One person who may not be losing much sleep over his blunder is Singerberger. According to Bloomberg, he has not made an appearance in a U.S. court and may not have to because the U.S. and Switzerland don't have an extradition treaty.



........Ummmm, another good reason to use a drone?

Mar 14, 2013 12:41PM
Mar 14, 2013 1:22PM
For anyone who believes in "the new world order" I would suggest you read up on banking and THEIR quotes. For if it is true, that is where it comes from, not one particular government.
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