Texas Woman Pleads Guilty to Using Offshore Accounts in Panama to Conceal More than $1.3 Million from the IRS
A resident of College Station, Texas, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States by using offshore accounts in Panama to conceal more than $1.3 million in royalty income that she earned from oil wells, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to documents and information provided to the court, Joyce Meads, 73, admitted that she filed false 1997 through 2009 individual income tax returns, omitting more than $1.3 million in royalty income that she received from oil wells. From approximately April 1997 through April 2010, she conspired with offshore promoters to disguise this income, setting up nominee companies in Delaware and Panama in the name of W.G. Holdings Corporation and transferring her interest in the oil wells to the nominee entity in Delaware. Meads’s monthly royalty checks were issued to W.G. Holdings. For approximately a decade, Meads had her royalty checks sent to a Miami post office box where they were picked up, couriered to Panama and deposited into her nominee accounts. Meads repatriated funds by disguising them as scholarships or loans from W.G. Holdings to herself. She later transferred the funds to bank accounts in her own name or her mother’s name. Meads admitted that she caused a tax loss of more than $250,000. Two of the promoters who assisted Meads, Marc Harris of The Harris Organization, Republic of Panama, and Boyce Griffin of Offshore Management Alliance Ltd., Republic of Panama, have also been convicted of conspiracy and other charges and were previously sentenced to prison.
“For more than a decade, Joyce Meads attempted to conceal her income from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by assigning it to a nominee entity and stashing it offshore,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg. “As today’s plea makes clear – the days of safely hiding your money offshore are over – the Department continues to work with its law enforcement partners to find and hold accountable those who seek to evade paying their fair share of taxes.”
“Joyce Meads’ attempt to use complex offshore schemes to evade paying her fair share of income taxes was no match for the skills of IRS Criminal Investigation special agents,” said Chief Richard Weber of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI). “IRS CI and the Department of Justice’s Tax Division share the same vision when it comes to investigating those who attempt to hide their income; whether it’s through offshore holdings or state-side entities, we are determined to put an end to this type of fraudulent activity.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 4. Meads faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg commended special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant Chief Greg Tortella of the Tax Division, who is prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.