FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2014
TDD (202) 514-1888
MIZRAHI BANK CLIENT PLEADS GUILTY TO FILING FALSE TAX RETURN
Beverly Hills Resident the Latest in Series of Defendants Charged with Concealing Accounts at Israeli Banks
WASHINGTON – Monajem Hakimijoo, also known as Manny Hakimi, of Beverly Hills, Calif., pleaded guilty on Feb. 13, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to filing a false federal income tax return for tax year 2007, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.
According to court documents, Hakimijoo, a U.S. citizen, and his brother maintained an undeclared bank account in Israel at Mizrahi Bank in the name of Kalamar Enterprises, a Turks and Caicos Islands entity they used to conceal their ownership of the account. Hakimijoo and his brother used the funds in the Kalamar account as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Mizrahi Bank. Although Hakimijoo and his brother claimed the interest paid on the back-to-back loans as a business deduction for federal tax purposes, they failed to report the interest income earned in their undeclared, Israel-based account as income on their tax returns. In total, Hakimijoo failed to report approximately $282,000 in interest income. The highest balance in the Kalamar Enterprises account was approximately $4,030,000.
According to court documents, in March 2013, Hakimijoo was scheduled to be interviewed by Justice Department attorneys and IRS special agents. Prior to the interview, Hakimijoo, through counsel, provided the attorneys and special agents with copies of his amended tax returns for 2004 and 2005. When asked if the amended tax returns had been filed with the IRS, Hakimijoo indicated that the returns had been filed. Shortly thereafter, the IRS determined there was no record of the amended returns being filed with the IRS. When Hakimijoo was asked to provide copies of cancelled checks to prove that the taxes reflected on the amended returns had been paid, none were provided.
Hakimijoo is the latest in a series of defendants charged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with concealing undeclared bank accounts in Israel that were used to obtain back-to-back loans in the United States.
U.S. citizens and residents who have an interest in, or other authority over, a financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of $10,000 are required to disclose the existence of such account on Schedule B, Part III, of their individual income tax returns. They must also file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports with the U.S. Treasury disclosing the aforementioned financial account(s).
Hakimijoo will be sentenced on April 28, 2014, and faces a statutory maximum prison term of three years and a maximum fine of $250,000. In addition, Hakimijoo has agreed to pay a civil penalty to the IRS in the amount of 50 percent of the highest balance of his one-half interest in the Kalamar account.
Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Tax Division and U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. for the Central District of California thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the cases, Senior Litigation Counsel John E. Sullivan and Assistant Chief Elizabeth C. Hadden for the Tax Division, who prosecuted the cases, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra A. Brown of the U.S. Attorney's Office, who assisted with the prosecutions.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at the division's website.