|Prosecutors in the U.S. say Swiss financial adviser Beda Singerberger helped 60 U.S. residents hide $184 million for more than a decade -- and was undone by his own hubris.
According to Bloomberg News, Singerberger mailed a list of his American clients to someone in the U.S. -- who or why isn't clear -- which "somehow wound up in the hands of federal authorities." His other blunder was coming up with catchy names for the offshore accounts he set up, such as Real Cool Investments Ltd. and Wanderlust Foundation, that would be red flags for even the most junior of prosecutors.
Retired U.S. Army surgeon Michael Canale, 83-year-old Jacques Wajsfelner and cancer researcher Michael Reiss are among the Singerberger clients nailed by prosecutors, who have "mined that list to great effect," as Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Levy told Bloomberg.
Having a Swiss bank account is no longer a sure-fire way for Americans to hide their money from the prying eyes of Uncle Sam. Last year, the IRS gave Bradley Birkenfeld a $104 million whistle-blower award, its largest ever, for helping recover billions in unpaid taxes that had been hidden in the European country.
UBS (UBS), Birkenfeld's former employer, paid $780 million in 2009 to avoid criminal prosecution and turned over account information to U.S. authorities on more than 4,500 American clients. What makes Birkenfeld remarkable is that he served time in prison for helping a California developer evade taxes.
The Birkenfeld payment set off such a panic among wealthy Americans that 14,000 of them joined a tax amnesty program that helped the federal government recover more than $5 billion in taxes, according to The New York Times.
One person who may not be losing much sleep over his blunder is Singerberger. According to Bloomberg, he has not made an appearance in a U.S. court and may not have to because the U.S. and Switzerland don't have an extradition treaty.