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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 24, 2020

U.S. Accountant In Panama Papers Investigation Sentenced To 39 Months In Prison

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced today that RICHARD GAFFEY, a/k/a “Dick Gaffey,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 39 months in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and other charges.  GAFFEY, a resident of Massachusetts, was charged along with Harald Joachim von der Goltz, Ramses Owens, and Dirk Brauer in connection with a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (“Mossack Fonseca”), a Panama-based global law firm, and its related entities.  GAFFEY previously pled guilty to the charges, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Richard Gaffey was a tax accountant who specialized in sheltering his clients’ assets and income, aiding and abetting their evasion of their U.S. tax obligations.  Now, after nearly two decades of felonious hide-and-seek, Gaffey has been sentenced to prison for his crimes.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictments,[1] other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings, including GAFFEY’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings:

Since at least 2000 through 2018, GAFFEY conspired with others to defraud the United States by concealing his clients’ assets and investments, and the income generated by those assets and investments, from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) through fraudulent, deceitful, and dishonest means.  During all relevant times, GAFFEY assisted U.S. taxpayers who were required to report and pay income tax on worldwide income, including income and capital gains generated in domestic and foreign bank accounts.  GAFFEY helped those U.S. taxpayers evade their tax reporting obligations in a variety of ways, including by hiding the beneficial ownership of his clients’ offshore shell companies and setting up bank accounts for those shell companies.  These shell companies and bank accounts made investments totaling tens of millions of dollars.  For one U.S. taxpayer, GAFFEY advised how to covertly repatriate approximately $3 million to the United States by reporting to the IRS a fictitious company sale that never actually occurred to evade paying the full U.S. tax amount.  GAFFEY was assisted in this scheme through the use of Mossack Fonseca, including Ramses Owens, a Panamanian lawyer who previously worked at Mossack Fonseca.

GAFFEY was the U.S. accountant for Harald Joachim von der Goltz.  From 2000 until 2017, von der Goltz was a U.S. resident and was subject to U.S. tax laws, which required him to report and pay income tax on worldwide income.  In furtherance of von der Goltz’s efforts to conceal his assets and income from the IRS, GAFFEY falsely claimed that von der Goltz’s elderly mother was the sole beneficial owner of the shell companies and bank accounts at issue because, at all relevant times, she was a Guatemalan citizen and resident, and – unlike von der Goltz – was not a U.S. taxpayer.  In support of this fraudulent scheme, GAFFEY submitted the name, date of birth, government passport number, address, and other means of identification of von der Goltz’s elderly mother to a U.S. bank in Manhattan.

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GAFFEY, 76, a U.S. citizen and resident of Medfield, Massachusetts, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion and to defraud the United States; one count of wire fraud; one count of money laundering conspiracy; four counts of willful failure to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FINCEN Reports 114; and one count of aggravated identity theft.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Berman ordered GAFFEY to serve three years of supervised release, to pay forfeiture in the amount of a sum of $5,373,609 and restitution in the amount of $3,459,315, and to pay a fine in the amount of $ 25,000.

Harald von der Goltz was sentenced by Judge Berman on September 21, 2020, principally to 48 months in prison.  Owens and Brauer remain at large. 

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Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS-CI and HSI, and thanked the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their significant assistance in the investigation.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division and law enforcement partners in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany for their assistance in the case.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, working in partnership with the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Eun Young Choi and Thane Rehn, along with Trial Attorney Michael Parker of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges as to Owens and Brauer are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Indictments and the descriptions of the Indictments set forth herein constitute only allegations as to Owens and Brauer, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Contact: 
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-206
Updated September 24, 2020