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Press Release

Swiss Lawyer Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Conspiring With U.S. Taxpayers To Evade Federal Income Taxes And File False Tax Returns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,

announced that EDGAR PALTZER, a former partner at a Swiss law firm (the “Swiss Law Firm”), pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to conspiring with U.S. taxpayer-clients and others to help U.S. taxpayers hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the IRS, and to evade U.S. taxes on the income earned in those accounts. PALTZER, who was originally charged in April 2013 along with his co-defendant Stefan Buck, was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in August 2013. He pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis.

According to the Superseding Information, the Indictment, statements made during the plea proceeding, and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:

PALTZER is a U.S.-trained lawyer who began to practice at the Swiss Law Firm in 1998, in the fields of international private client work, wealth transfer planning, successions, trusts and foundations, and eventually became a partner. PALTZER is also licensed to practice in New York State.

United States taxpayers are required to report on their individual tax returns the existence of any foreign bank account that holds more than $10,000 at any time during a given year, as well as any income earned in such accounts.

PALTZER conspired with various U.S. taxpayers and others to ensure that their clients could hide their Swiss bank accounts and the income generated in them from the IRS. PALTZER, acting as a financial intermediary, helped U.S. taxpayers maintain undeclared assets in Swiss banks by, among other things, working with these U.S. taxpayers to create and maintain sham foundations and other entities to nominally hold the U.S. taxpayers’ accounts in Swiss banks. When certain Swiss banks required that these U.S. taxpayers close their accounts, PALTZER worked with these U.S. taxpayers and others to move their accounts to other Swiss banks that were still willing to maintain accounts for U.S. taxpayers with undeclared assets.

PALTZER also helped to repatriate funds to the U.S. taxpayers from their undeclared accounts in Switzerland in ways that were designed to ensure that U.S. authorities would not discover these undeclared accounts. For example, PALTZER helped a U.S. taxpayer repatriate assets in the form of jewelry in order to avoid detection of an account in Switzerland.

PALTZER, 56, a dual U.S.-Swiss citizen, pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of conspiracy charging him with conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and others to evade federal income taxes and file false tax returns. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero on February 21, 2014.

Buck, PALTZER’s co-defendant, has not been arrested and remains at large. The charges against Buck are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. He also thanked the Department of Justice’s Tax Division for their significant assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason H. Cowley, Daniel W. Levy, David Massey, Sarah Paul, and Sarah McCallum are in charge of the prosecution.

U.S. v. Edgar Paltzer S1 Information

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-277