Bloomberg News

California Couple Pleads Guilty to Hiding Swiss UBS Account

June 20, 2011

(Updates with lawyer’s comment in fifth paragraph.)

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- A California couple who own and operate a school for test pilots pleaded guilty to hiding their Swiss bank account with UBS AG as well as other offshore bank accounts from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Sean and Nadia Roberts of Tehachapi, California, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return, the Justice Department said today in a statement. Under the plea deal, they agreed to pay the IRS $710,000 in restitution. They face as long as three years in prison at their sentencing on Sept. 6, according to the statement.

Between 2004 and 2008, the couple transferred more than $1.2 million from their company to a UBS account and falsely deducted the transfers as interest payments on their corporate income tax returns, according to the statement. The false deductions also allowed them to underreport their income on their individual tax returns, the government said.

UBS, based in Zurich, provided the U.S. with the identities and account information of the couple as part of a 2009 deferred prosecution agreement under which the bank admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide assets from the IRS, according to the Justice Department’s statement.

The couple is cooperating with an ongoing Justice Department investigation, said Edward Robbins Jr., their lawyer, in a phone interview.

Because they were on the list UBS provided to the U.S. government, they weren’t able to participate in an IRS amnesty program for Americans with secret offshore accounts, Robbins said.

The case is U.S. v. Roberts, 11-00199, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Fresno.)

--Editors: Mary Romano, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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