Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
AUGUST 15, 2002
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. The Department of Justice today asked a federal court in Miami for authorization to allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to serve a "John Doe" summons on MasterCard International. A "John Doe" summons permits the IRS to obtain information about people whose identities are not presently known to the IRS. The IRS expects the information it seeks will help in identifying people who use offshore accounts to evade their United States tax liabilities.

In October 2000, the court in Miami approved a similar "John Doe" summons on MasterCard International relating to the years 1998 and 1999, for records of cards issued by banks in the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the Cayman Islands. The petition filed today seeks records relating to the years 1999, 2000 and 2001, of cards issued by banks in more than 30 countries. The 30 countries include Liechtenstein, Switzerland and numerous Caribbean nations, such as Belize, Bermuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Recently, a federal court in San Francisco authorized the IRS to serve a summons on Visa International for records of cards issued by banks in those same 30 countries.

"Offshore accounts have enabled people to evade billions of dollars of income taxes each year in the United States," said Eileen J. O'Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division. "The information obtained with the summons will help the IRS identify more tax evaders."

The papers filed in Miami today disclose that in response to the earlier "John Doe" summons, MasterCard International produced records that led to civil audits and criminal investigations of many United States taxpayers. These taxpayers include people who have used offshore credit cards to pay for expenses that have such as jewelry, hotel and car rentals, airline tickets, restaurants, cell-phone and online services, department store purchases and groceries.