Miami Court Delays UBS Lawsuit Hearing in Hope of Settlement in Tax Evasion Case

July 13, 2009 by David S. Seltzer

Miami Court Delays UBS Lawsuit Hearing in Hope of Settlement in Tax Evasion Case

A federal judge in Miami-Dade County agreed July 13 to postpone a hearing in the hotly contested UBS lawsuit, the New York Times reported July 13. A new hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3 in the case brought against Swiss bank UBS by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The IRS is suing for the names of 52,000 Americans who have accounts with UBS, which admitted in a separate criminal case that it knowingly and intentionally helped Americans hide income from the IRS. UBS paid $780 million to the federal government to settle the criminal charges, but the IRS has threatened to indict the bank after all if it doesn’t get the names. This has created a quiet diplomatic showdown, with UBS complaining that it would violate Swiss law if it did what the IRS requests.

UBS has already turned over around 300 names of Americans who used its services to commit tax fraud. In anticipation of the revelation of 52,000 more, the IRS in March announced a six-month voluntary disclosure program. In this program, people with accounts at UBS are encouraged to come forward and declare any previously undeclared income. These taxpayers will still have to pay back taxes and a penalty, but they will not be prosecuted and will not be liable for the full amount of fines they might otherwise have faced. Without the voluntary disclosure, they face up to five years in prison for each tax evasion count, plus steep fines and potential loss of money and property. At least three Floridians -- two bankers and a Boca Raton man -- have already been criminally charged in the UBS matter.

As I wrote last month, many UBS clients have already sought representation from South Florida tax evasion criminal defense lawyers to help them get the best deal they can and avoid unnecessary risk as they come forward. While I am sure that some of these clients knew they were breaking the law by hiding their assets with UBS, published reports suggest that many others truly didn’t realize they had to pay taxes on their UBS accounts. One report said many UBS account holders in South Florida are children or grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who inherited the Swiss accounts and simply kept on doing what their relatives had done, trusting that their bank wouldn’t do anything illegal. As a Fort Lauderdale tax evasion criminal defense attorney, I believe prison and asset forfeiture are deeply inappropriate for such people.

I am proud to say that I represent clients in South Florida who need the help of a Miami tax evasion criminal defense lawyer to take part in the IRS voluntary disclosure plan. Finding, documenting and paying back taxes and fines can be complicated and sometimes frightening -- but waiting until the government comes after you can make the situation considerably worse. My job as a South Florida tax fraud criminal defense lawyer is to negotiate aggressively on clients’ behalf with federal prosecutors, to ensure that justice is done and get a fair settlement that leaves them with a clean criminal record.