Los Angeles Businessman Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Defraud The United States By Concealing Israeli Bank Accounts
Defendant Is Latest In A Series Of Defendants Charged With Failing To Report Income From Undeclared Accounts In Israel
WASHINGTON – David Raminfard of Los Angeles pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) announced.
According to court documents, Raminfard, a U.S. citizen, maintained undeclared bank accounts at an international bank headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, identified in court documents as Bank A. The accounts were held in the names of nominees in order to keep them secret from the U.S. government. One of the accounts was held in the name of Westrose Limited, a nominee entity formed in the Turks and Caicos Islands. To further ensure that his undeclared accounts remained secret, Raminfard placed a mail hold on his accounts. Rather than having his account statements mailed to him, Raminfard would receive them from an international accounts manager with Bank A in Israel, who brought the statements to Los Angeles and reviewed them with Raminfard during meetings at a hotel.
In or about 2000, Raminfard began secretly using the funds in his undeclared accounts as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Bank A. Raminfard used one of the loans to purchase commercial real estate in Los Angeles. By using back-to-back loans, Raminfard was able to access his funds in Israel without the U.S. Government finding out about his undeclared accounts. These loans also enabled Raminfard to claim the interest paid on the loans as a business expense on his companies' business tax returns, while not reporting the interest earned in Israel as income on his individual income tax returns filed with the IRS. For tax years 2005 through 2010, Raminfard failed to report approximately $521,000 in income. The highest balance in Raminfard's undeclared accounts was approximately $3 million.
Raminfard is the latest in a series of defendants charged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with using undeclared bank accounts in Israel to obtain back-to-back loans in the United States.
U.S. citizens and residents who have an interest in, or signature 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. Additionally, U.S. citizens and residents must file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports (FBAR) with the U.S. Treasury disclosing any financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of $10,000 in which they have a financial interest or over which they have signature or other authority.
Raminfard faces a potential maximum prison term of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000. In addition, Raminfard has agreed to pay a civil penalty to the IRS in the amount of 50 percent of the high balance of his undeclared accounts for failing to file FBARs.
Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte Jr. thanked special agents of IRS-CI, who investigated the cases, Tax Division Senior Litigation Counsel John E. Sullivan and Assistant Chief Elizabeth C. Hadden, 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 www.justice.gov/tax/.