Liechtenstein Landesbank AG became the latest bank to fall in the US government’s intensifying battle against tax-evading Americans and the European banks that aid them. Forbes magazine covered the joint announcement from the Department of Justice, IRS, and US Attorney’s office in an article this week.
The terms of the deal allow the Liechtenstein Landesbank AG (LLB) to avoid impending prosecution in US district court in exchange for a payment of $23.8 million to the IRS. According to the Department of Justice, the LLB actively aided Americans in hiding assets from the IRS for a decade spanning from 2001 to 2011. And LLB was holding a lot of US taxpayer assets. In 2006 it held over $340 million in undeclared funds in nearly 1,000 accounts, all belonging to US taxpayers. The $23.8 million payment includes the $16,316,000 it made from the clandestine funds as well as a $7,525,542 restitution payment.
The LLB deal represents a major victory in the US government’s efforts to crack down on offshore accounts used for tax-evasion purposes. The relative leniency of this deal is due to how cooperative LLB has been. LLB began actively cooperating with the IRS in 2008, helping to change the bank secrecy laws in Liechtenstein and handing over account holder information. It has admitted that it knew it was aiding tax-evading Americans and has agreed to continue cooperating for three more years.
The once-legendary bank secrecy of European banks appears to be crumbling as the IRS and Department of Justice continue their quest to ensure that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share. The strong victory in Liechtenstein bodes well for continued IRS victories abroad.