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Swiss Tax Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Conspiracy to Help Americans Avoid Tax
In April, charges had been filed against Edgar Paltzer, a former partner at The Swiss Law Firm, and Stefan Buck. While Buck is still to comply, Paltzer was arrested earlier this month at the John F Kennedy Airport when he arrived to US. On Friday, he pleaded guilty in a federal court before US Judge Magistrate Ronald Ellis to conspiracy for helping US taxpayers avoid millions of dollars in taxes.
Thomas Ostrander, Paltzer’s lawyer told the media that Paltzer is cooperating with law enforcement and that he “made a decision to face these charges and come to the US.”
The matter had become an international issue and in June, the lower chamber of the Swiss Parliament blocked a bill that could have relaxed banking secrecy rules and paved the way for Swiss banks to provide information to the US government on tax-evading US citizens.
Paltzer admitted in court, “I intentionally formed foundations and corporations which permitted these US taxpayers to hide from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) these accounts and the income earned in these accounts.”
US attorney Preet Bharara said the Paltzer, who had studied in the US, helped US citizens evade taxes.
In one case Paltzer helped a client transfer millions of dollars through jewelry personally obtained by Paltzer. He moved money around in sham offshore companies and between Swiss banks to hide undeclared accounts of clients.
Paltzer admitted, “I assisted these taxpayers in violating their legal duties. I was aware that this conduct was wrong.”
US authorities have been pursuing Swiss bank accounts of US tax evaders relentlessly. Under pressure, since 2010, UBS financial services company has handed over the data on thousands of its US clients and paid $780 million in fines. In March this year, Switzerland’s oldest bank declared it would close down after a US court convicted it for helping US tax evaders to hide more than $1.2 billion.