Kevin Downing, the Justice Department prosecutor who directed the U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion including UBS AG (UBSN), agreed to join Miller & Chevalier, a Washington-based tax law firm.
Downing will join the firm June 11, Miller & Chevalier said today in an e-mailed statement. Downing resigned from the Justice Department effective today, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be identified and wasn’t authorized to speak about the resignation.
“The focus of the federal government on criminal tax enforcement is going to continue at an aggressive pace,” Patricia Sweeney, chairwoman of Miller & Chevalier’s tax department, said in the statement. Downing’s “understanding of both civil and criminal enforcement issues unique to international financial institutions will be of great benefit.”
Downing was the lead prosecutor in the U.S. probe of UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank. In February 2009, UBS avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it helped thousands of Americans evade taxes and turning over the names of 250 American clients to U.S. authorities. UBS later revealed another 4,450 accounts.
Downing also helped to lead the prosecution of former KPMG executives. The 2005 case began as the largest tax-shelter prosecution in U.S. history with 17 former KPMG executives, including former Deputy Chairman Jeffrey Stein, accused of selling shelters that cost the Treasury $2 billion.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the case, dismissed charges against many of the former executives saying prosecutors violated their right to counsel. Stein was among them.
A trial resulted in the acquittal of a former KPMG tax partner, David Greenberg. Charges against New York-based KPMG, one of the Big Four U.S. accounting firms, were dismissed in January 2007 after it paid a $456 million fine.
“It is clear that U.S. and international enforcement activity is going to continue to intensify,” Thomas Zehnle, a member in Miller & Chevalier’s criminal tax practice, said in the statement, citing the pending implementation of the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, which will require financial institutions based outside the U.S. to obtain and record information about income and interest payments accrued in accounts of American clients. The law is scheduled to take effect in phases beginning Jan. 1, 2013.
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