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Press Release

Founder of Russian Bank Charged with Tax Fraud

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Allegedly Concealed $1 Billion in Assets and Income when Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

The founder of a Russian bank was arrested last week in London in connection with an indictment charging him with filing false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.  The Sept. 26, 2019, indictment was unsealed today. 

According to the indictment, Oleg Tinkov was the indirect majority shareholder of a branchless online bank that provided its customers with financial and bank services.  The indictment alleges as a result of an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, Tinkov beneficially owned more than $1 billion worth of the bank’s shares.  The indictment further alleges that three days after the IPO, Tinkov renounced his U.S. citizenship – a taxable event requiring Tinkov to report to the IRS the constructive sale of his worldwide assets, report the gain on the constructive sale of those assets to the IRS, and pay tax on such gain to the IRS.  Although Tinkov allegedly beneficially owned more than $1 billion of TCS shares at the time of his expatriation through a British Virgin Island structure, the indictment charges that Tinkov filed a false 2013 tax return with the IRS that reported income of less than $206,000, and a false 2013 Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement reporting that his net worth was $300,000.

If convicted, Tinkov faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison on each count.  He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Trial Attorney Christopher S. Strauss of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle J. Kane and Katherine Lloyd-Lovett , are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Katie Turner and Rebecca Shelton.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by IRS–Criminal Investigation. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department is assisting with the extradition. 

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the Division’s website.

Updated March 5, 2020

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 20-277