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DOJ Curious to Know if Credit Suisse Pulled a UBS

That is, helped American clients stash money offshore.

Credit Suisse said Friday it had been notified that it was the object of an investigation by the United States Department of Justice, citing “a broader industry inquiry.” The Swiss bank said that it had previously received subpoenas and other information requests from the Justice Department and other government agencies regarding cross-border services that its private banking arm provided to American clients.

As you may recall, the situation for UBS didn’t turn out so well and they sorta went back on that whole “secrecy” thing. Unfortch for Credit Suisse, they’ll probably have to snitch too:

On Friday, a court in Lausanne upheld the Swiss government decision to force UBS to hand over client data, citing “virtually uncontrollable economic repercussions for Switzerland” if it had not done so. That decision implies that Credit Suisse, too, may be ordered to surrender information about customers’ accounts to American authorities.

Credit Suisse Discloses U.S. Inquiry Into Private Banking [DealBook]
Earlier: DOJ: You Bet Your A$$ We’re Going After More Offshore Tax Evaders

Area Man Who Probably Cut Out His Own Tongue, Allegedly Murdered His Neighbor, Adds Tax Evasion to Dubious Behavior

Great find by Joe Kristan who would have no problem jumping on the New York Post’s headline desk.

This could only happen in the South:

A murder suspect accused of cutting out his own tongue has been arrested for tax evasion.

The Mobile County District Attorney’s office says Michael Crocker and his wife, Donna, didn’t pay taxes on $1 million they earned from their waste burning plant in Mount Vernon.

[…]

Investigators learned about the tax evaision while investigating Crocker for the murder of Stephen O’Neal Perret. Perret was found shot to death in a work truck near his Citronelle home on August 17, 2007. Perret was Crocker’s neighbor and the plant manager at Vulcan Industrial Services, Crocker’s company.

One day after Perret’s funeral, Crocker called 911 and said someone cut out his tongue, but police believe Crocker cut out his own tongue.

Accused Tongue Cutter Arrested Again [WKRG via Tax Update Blog]

IRS, DOJ Want a Peek at Some HSBC India Bank Accounts

Back in February, the IRS announced that it would be giving offshore bank account holders another chance to come clean on their tax-avoiding ways. Tax amnesty 1.0 went pretty well and last year, the IRS had a whale of time sticking it to UBS and a number of customers who were holding out. But in all honesty, we all know that picking off a bunch of blondes with above-average chocolatiering skills was some low-hanging fruit. Today the IRS, along with the DOJ, announced their next target of their sniffing-out-offshore-bank-account world tour. HSBC India! – come on down!

The United States is seeking an order from a federal court in San Francisco authorizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to request information from HSBC Bank USA, N.A. about U.S. residents who may be using accounts at The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in India (HSBC India) to evade federal income taxes, the Justice Department announced today.

The government filed a petition with the court to allow the IRS to serve what is known as a “John Doe” summons on the bank. The IRS uses a John Doe summons to obtain information about possible tax fraud by people whose identities are unknown. If approved, the John Doe summons would direct HSBC USA to produce records identifying U.S. taxpayers with accounts at HSBC India, many of whom are believed by the government to have hidden their accounts from the IRS.

And if anyone is getting the idea that this is an HSBC/Hong Kong/India issue, Doug Shulman would like you to know that this is not personal, it’s simply the IRS doing the Treasury’s dirty work, “The IRS continues to focus its attention on international tax evasion,” the Commish said. “This summons request is focused on obtaining more information to help us determine if additional actions are needed. As I’ve said all along, our international efforts are not about just one country or one bank – it’s about our wider effort to ensure compliance with the nation’s tax laws.”

The Treasury isn’t going to fill itself now, is it?

[via WSJ]

IRS Unit Fully Intends to Make Rich People’s Audit Experience as Unpleasant as Possible

As you my have heard, being mega-rich these days has its disadvantages, including but not limited to – 1) governments getting overly reliant on the wealthy pitching in with revenues; 2) people giving you a hard time when you buy new toys; 3) your own kind selling you out.

Because times are tough and elected officials are having difficulty convincing anyone that higher taxes for the middle class are a good idea, the affluent are having the unfortunate luck to experience the rigor of the Global High Wealth Industry Group – a new unit within the IRS designed to perform the financial equivalent of a full rectal exam:

The reviews performed so far have been particularly harsh, say attorneys. Investors are being asked to turn over numerous hard-to-get documents in short order. These are “the audits from hell that your grandfather warned you about,” says Charles P. Rettig, a partner at Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez in Beverly Hills, Calif.

And don’t think for a second that the Service is putting scrubs on these assignments. Extra-special auditees deserve extra-special auditors:

Miriam L. Fisher, a tax attorney and partner at law firm Morgan Lewis in Washington, says the audit teams comprise “A-list examiners” drawn from around the country who are knowledgeable and experienced with various financial products and industries. The audits are so intensive that each team is handling only a few right now and they aren’t far along in the process, she says.

IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge says the group is looking at “individuals who have a complex set of situations, and looking at the complete financial set up.” She acknowledged that “these cases are full audits.”

Although you would never expect an IRS audit to be as delightful as, say, your average weekend in the Hamptons but haven’t rich people suffered enough? The least the IRS examiners could do is bring something from Maison du Chocolat to bring the tension down a notch.

[via TaxProf]