September 15,2021

Wyden Presses Swiss Bank Mirabaud on Billionaire Tax Evasion

Mirabaud held $1 billion in undeclared assets for Robert Brockman for over a decade

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today pressed Swiss bank Mirabaud on its compliance with Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) following a Justice Department indictment of U.S. billionaire Robert Brockman showing the bank held roughly $1 billion in undeclared income offshore for Brockman for nearly 10 years. As it stands, the department’s case against Brockman is the largest tax evasion case brought against an individual in U.S. history. A critical component of federal law to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding accounts and other financial assets offshore, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) certain information about financial accounts held by U.S. persons

“These revelations raise important questions regarding Mirabaud’s compliance with FATCA and whether Mirabaud reported the existence of Brockman’s accounts to the IRS. Additionally, this calls into question Mirabaud’s decision not to participate in the U.S. DOJ’s Swiss Bank Program, which provided Mirabaud the opportunity to voluntarily provide U.S. authorities detailed information on an account-by-account basis for accounts in which U.S. taxpayers have a direct or indirect interest. I am deeply concerned by the duration and scale of this alleged tax evasion scheme, particularly the ability to hide billions of dollars offshore from the IRS for such an extended period of time, including at accounts at Mirabaud,” Wyden wrote in a letter to Yves Mirabaud, Senior Managing Partner.

Wyden asked Mirabaud to provide answers to the following questions by October 1, 2021:

  1. At any point while Robert Brockman maintained accounts at Mirabaud, did Mirabaud report the existence of Brockman’s accounts to the IRS? If so, did Mirabaud also report account numbers and account balances or values to the IRS?
  2. Please describe what steps were taken while Brockman was a client at Mirabaud to ensure compliance with FATCA, including efforts to disclose Brockman’s accounts to the IRS as part of any FATCA agreements Mirabaud or its subsidiaries entered into with the IRS.
    1. Please also describe what steps were taken to verify Brockman’s status as a U.S. citizen and taxpayer, including requesting forms W-9, W-8 or any other documentation as appropriate.
  3. During Brockman’s time as a Mirabaud client, did any Mirabaud representatives ever seek to verify with Brockman if he had filed foreign bank account registrations (FBAR) as he was required to by U.S. law? If so, please describe what documentation, if any, Mirabaud representatives requested from Brockman to confirm that he had in fact filed the requisite FBARs.
  4. Please describe what steps Mirabaud takes to ensure that accounts where U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest are FATCA compliant, including the type of information Mirabaud requests from clients that are U.S. persons.
  5. Please describe any FATCA agreements Mirabaud and any of its subsidiaries have entered into with the IRS. Please also include steps Mirabaud takes to ensure that all accounts where U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest are properly reported to the IRS.
  6. Please provide a detailed explanation related to Mirabaud’s decision to not participate in the DOJ’s Swiss Bank Program.
  7. Has Mirabaud declared all accounts involving U.S. persons to the IRS as required by FATCA? What actions has Mirabaud taken to ensure that all accounts required to be declared have been declared?  Please also describe efforts being taken by Mirabaud to close recalcitrant accounts where account holders are refusing to fully come into compliance and disclose all required information to U.S. authorities.

“As Chairman of the United States Senate Finance Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction of matters pertaining to federal taxation and the IRS, I believe it is fundamentally important to understand the methods by which high net worth individuals evade federal taxes by failing to disclose income,” Wyden concluded.

Wyden has championed closing the tax gap and strengthening oversight of wealthy tax cheats. Pass-through and partnership entities are the primary tool of tax avoidance and evasion at the top, making it particularly important to understand this case.

A copy of the letter is available here.