Government authorities are going after three Swiss bankers suspected of stashing over a billion dollars out of reach of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Huffington Post published details of the case on Tuesday afternoon, "Three Swiss bankers were charged Tuesday with hiding more than $1.2 billion in U.S. taxpayer accounts from the IRS, by Preet Bharar, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney." Bharar, of course, is the same U.S. Attorney that recused himself from investigating News Corp.'s phone hacking investigation due to his close relationship with a member of the company's board, but he's also one of the most ruthless prosecutors when it comes to major white collar crime cases. Judge Jed Rakoff, recently identified as Occupy Wall Street's hero in the Department of Justice, for refusing to allow Citigroup to settle a case related to the financial crisis without fully divulging the details of what it did. Of the three bankers charged -- following up with the names Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller -- HuffPost's Marcus Baram noted, "All three Swiss bankers worked at Wegelin & Co., which has been in cross-hairs of US authorities…" and points to a Bloomberg report from last March of a Wegelin banker arrested by F.B.I. agents at the Miami airport in October 2010 and later convicted of money-laundering charges, to which he had confessed.
News of such a massive case of tax evasion that will be pursued by DOJ all-stars like Bharara and Rakoff weighs heavy on a developing issue of American corporations practically committing tax evasion by exploiting loopholes. Known as the Double Irish, many companies set up global headquarters in places like Dublin, allowing them to exploit a loophole in the U.S. tax code that saves companies tens of billions of dollars. Google, for one, is currently being audited by the IRS for possible tax avoidance, after it saved an estimated $60 billion for paying what amounts to a 2.4 percent tax rate. Until we know the full details of latest case against the Swiss bankers we won't know if the most recent case relates to the income shifting that allows U.S. corporations to stow away taxable revenue in foreign banks, but these charges at least show Americans that the IRS is cracking down on off-shore accounts.