$50K delivered to your door: a convenience of (illegal) offshore banking


In this April 3, 2012 file picture the logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is photographed at a building in Zurich, Switzerland. The bank reported Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 a net profit of $295 million for the October-December period. The flat performance came as the company set aside money to deal with ongoing mortgage litigation and costs related to a U.S. investigation of alleged tax evasion. (AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella, File)

The rich are not like the rest of us, and neither are their offshore bankers.

Court documents filed in a big tax evasion case in Northern Virginia provide just a glimpse of the extra services available if you have the means and will to maintain secret accounts with large banks in Switzerland or the Caribbean.

For example, instead of making your $50,000 cash deposit at some machine, the banker comes to your home, office or hotel to collect it.

Need a withdrawal? Just call. He’ll take the cash he got from the depositor and deliver it it to you.

Albert Markus Bachmann, “a/k/a Andrew Bachman,  a/k/a Andy Bachman” admitted to all this and more in a statement of facts when he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to helping U.S. residents hide their money from tax collectors in offshore accounts.

Bachmann is the first of eight Swiss bank officials — most of them connected to Credit Suisse — to admit wrongdoing in the case, which dates to 2011, when prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia charged the group with conspiring to defraud the United States.

Doing business with Bachmann meant not asking for certain documents most people get routinely in the mail or online, like a bank statement. A customer naïve enough to request one, according to the statement of facts filed in court, would be asked if he “really” wanted to have it.

Bachmann, the statement said, would inform “the customer of the risks inherent in maintaining physical copies of their account statements in places where U.S. law enforcement authorities might be able to seize them.”

The cash deposit and withdrawal system (take some here, give some there) was convenient because the banker then did not have to travel with cash and risk inconvenient questions at customs.

He learned his lesson in October 2001, when $50,000 was discovered in his carry-on luggage at a New York airport. After briefly being questioned, he continued traveling with the case to the West Coast and then South Florida.

But when he met the intended recipient of the cash and told him what had happened, the customer “refused to receive the money out of concern” that it it could lead to the discovery of his undeclared account, said the statement of facts.

On his way back to Switzerland, Bachmann felt compelled to put the cash in his luggage, which he checked in. It must have been a nervous flight for him.

Bachmann knew all this was illegal, according to the statement, and so did his bosses at a subsidiary of Credit Suisse.

Their advice to him was “‘Mr. Bachmann: You know what we expect of you—don’t get caught.’”

The plea comes a few weeks after Credit Suisse agreed to pay $196 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it advised U.S. clients without the required registration, the Post’s Mark Zapotosky reports. As part of his plea agreement, Bachmann has also agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, which could spell more trouble for the Swiss banking giant and Bachmann’s former customers in particular.

 

 

Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.
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