Tax Return Preparers Convicted of Assisting Wealthy Clients Hide Millions in Secret Offshore Accounts at Israeli Banks
A federal jury sitting in Los Angeles today convicted two California tax return preparers of one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and two counts of willfully failing to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura for the Central District of California, and Chief of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Rich Weber.
According to the second superseding indictment and evidence introduced at trial, David Kalai and Nadav Kalai were principals of United Revenue Service Inc. (URS), a tax preparation business with 12 offices located throughout the United States. David Kalai worked primarily at URS’s former headquarters in Newport Beach, California, and later at URS’s location in Costa Mesa, California. Nadav Kalai, who is David Kalai’s son, worked out of URS’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as the URS locations in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. David Almog was the branch manager of the New York office of URS and supervised tax return preparers for URS’s East Coast locations.
U.S. citizens, resident aliens and legal permanent residents have an obligation to report to the IRS on Schedule B of the U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, whether they had a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a financial account in a foreign country in a particular year by checking “yes” or “no” in the appropriate box and identifying the country where the account is maintained. They further have an obligation to report all income earned from the foreign financial account on the tax returns. Separately, U.S. citizens, resident aliens and legal permanent residents with a foreign financial interest in, or signatory authority over, a foreign financial account worth more than $10,000 in a particular year must also file an FBAR with the U.S. Treasury disclosing such an account by June 30th of the following year.
“As the defendants in this case have learned, hiding income and assets offshore is not tax planning; it’s tax fraud,” said Chief Richard Weber IRS-Criminal Investigation. “There is no secret formula that can eliminate an individual’s tax obligations. Today’s verdict reinforces our commitment to every American taxpayer that we will identify and prosecute those who implement off-shore tax schemes designed to evade the payment of taxes.”
The second superseding indictment and the evidence introduced at trial established that the co-conspirators prepared false individual income tax returns that did not disclose the clients’ foreign financial accounts nor report the income earned from those accounts. In order to conceal the clients’ ownership and control of assets and to conceal the clients’ income from the IRS, the co-conspirators incorporated offshore companies in Belize and elsewhere and helped clients open secret bank accounts at the Luxembourg locations of two Israeli banks, Bank A and Bank B. Bank A is a large financial institution headquartered in Tel -Aviv, Israel, with branches worldwide. Bank B is a mid-size financial institution, also headquartered in Tel Aviv, with a presence on four continents.
As further proven at trial, the co-conspirators incorporated offshore companies in Belize and elsewhere to act as named account holders on the secret accounts at the Israeli banks. The co-conspirators then facilitated the transfer of client funds to the secret accounts and prepared and filed tax returns that falsely reported the money sent offshore as a false investment loss or a false business expense. The co-conspirators also failed to disclose the existence of, and the clients’ financial interest in and authority over, the secret accounts and caused the clients to fail to file FBARs with the U.S. Treasury.
“The Kalais created sham foreign corporate entities and used banks in Luxembourg and Israel as havens for hiding their U.S. clients’ money from the U.S. government,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek. “Today’s guilty verdict sends a clear message that those professionals who facilitate tax evasion through the use of offshore bank accounts will be held accountable for their criminal conduct. The Tax Division will continue its vigorous tax enforcement efforts in prosecuting return preparers, bankers, and other facilitators who assist clients in concealing assets offshore.”
The evidence at trial established that David Kalai and Nadav Kalai each failed to file FBARs for calendar years 2008 and 2009 concerning a foreign account held at Bank A in Luxembourg. The bank account was held in the name of a nominee corporation in Belize and held over $300,000.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 16, 2015.
This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Christopher S. Strauss and Ellen M. Quattrucci of Tax Division, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California, and was investigated with the assistance of the IRS.