| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 19 A Florida man on Tuesday
pleaded guilty in New York to criminal charges for concealing as
much $1.1 million in offshore accounts, even after learning that
U.S. authorities were cracking down on wealthy Americans evading
Bernard Kramer, 83, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and
submitting false tax returns, stemming from a scheme that
prosecutors said ran for a quarter century and involved an
undeclared Swiss bank account he referred to as "Hot Lips."
Kramer also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in ongoing
investigations, according to U.S. District Judge Alvin
Hellerstein, who accepted Kramer's plea in Manhattan federal
According to court papers made public on Tuesday, Kramer,
who has also lived in New Jersey, began evading taxes around
1987 when he opened the undeclared account at an unnamed Swiss
Upon learning in 2008 that U.S. authorities were probing UBS
AG for helping U.S. taxpayers conceal accounts, Kramer
remained determined to keep hiding his money. In around March
2010 he arranged to move it to a new, undeclared account at an
Israeli bank that was also not named, the papers show.
Kramer failed to report interest and income from these
accounts to the Internal Revenue Service from 1987 to 2012 and
failed to file a U.S. Treasury form known as the Report of
Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, or FBAR, detailing his
holdings, the papers show.
During Tuesday's court hearing, Kramer said he met regularly
in New York with a representative of the Swiss bank to discuss
his account and that "it was understood" the account's existence
would remain a secret from tax authorities. He and bank staff
used the code name "Hot Lips" to refer to the account,
His defense lawyer, Brian Ketcham, declined to identify the
banks after the hearing.
Dozens of U.S. taxpayers have been charged in the United
States since the crackdown on using Swiss bank accounts to evade
U.S. taxes became public.
More than 45,000 Americans have paid about $6.5 billion in
back taxes, interest and penalties under voluntary IRS amnesty
programs, the agency said in June.
In May, Credit Suisse Group AG agreed to pay
roughly $2.6 billion in penalties and pleaded guilty to helping
Americans avoid taxes, in settlements with various regulators.
UBS agreed in 2009 to a $780 million penalty.
Kramer faces up to five years in prison on the top count
against him and more than $600,000 in restitution and penalties,
The case is U.S. v. Kramer, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 14-cr-00549.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa