WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two former clients of UBS AG were sentenced on Monday to a year and a day in prison, matching what records show as the longest prison term ordered so far in a sprawling investigation of offshore tax avoidance involving the Swiss banking giant.
Sean and Nadia Roberts of Tehachapi, California, were also ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution and fines, the U.S. Justice Department said. He is 77 years old and she is 64.
The couple pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing a false income tax return. From 2004 to 2008, they failed to report interest income from millions held in offshore accounts, falsely deducted bank transfers and under-reported income, prosecutors said.
One other former UBS client, Richard Werdiger, has received a prison term that long, according to an Internal Revenue Service-maintained list of UBS cases. Other clients have received a combination of probation, home confinement and fines.
The Robertses had requested probation, and their lawyer Nina Marino on Monday called the prison sentence “a travesty of justice” because of their age, restitution and other factors.
The sentence is likely to discourage restitution in future cases and reflects the Justice Department’s “rigid and barbaric approach to these matters,” Marino said.
Prosecutors asked the court to impose a two-year prison sentence because, according to court papers, the couple took steps to keep their offshore holdings secret after the investigation into UBS became publicly known.
The tax returns in question covered both individual income and the couple’s income from two corporations they ran, a pilot-testing school and an aircraft-maintenance company.
Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Gary Hill