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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yacht broker Robert Moran yesterday pleaded guilty to tax fraud

Published by IBINEWS

Yacht broker Robert Moran yesterday pleaded guilty to tax fraud in the Federal District Court in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Founder and CEO of Moran Yacht and Ship, Moran is the second client of Swiss Bank UBS who has been indicted in an investigation by US authorities of illegal offshore banking practices. Moran's brokerage and charter firm has offices in Ft Lauderdale and Moscow.

Moran's attorney, William McCarthy, told the New York Times that he would not comment on his client's case.

Moran, who admitted that he held a UBS account worth US$3.4m that he did not report on his tax returns, agreed to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. According to, Moran set up the account as Winter Drive Investments SA, a Panamanian corporation, in 2000.

Moran was released on a US$6m bond. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 26. Moran could face jail time of up to three years.

In February, the US government made an agreement with the world's largest private bank to turn over US citizens hiding income in exchange for avoiding prosecution. UBS also paid US$780m in penalties, admitted it helped taxpayers hide money in Swiss accounts, and strengthened its compliance programmes. The bank also turned over 250 client names to the US Internal Revenue Service.

"We will continue to prosecute those who use offshore schemes to avoid paying their taxes," said R Alexander Acosta, US attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in a statement.

He is the second UBS client to be arrested by the Justice Department. Steven Michael Rubinstein, an accountant in Boca Raton, Florida, who is also involved with the marine industry, was also charged with filing a false and fraudulent tax return.

Authorities have opened more than 100 criminal investigations of UBS clients, some of whom are notable names on Wall Street, according to the New York Times. The bank admitted that it helped clients hide more than US$20bn worth of assets.

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