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Elderly Couple Will Spend 366 Days in Prison for Offshore Accounts

On July 30, 2012, Sean Roberts, 77, and Nadia Roberts, 64, of California were sentenced to one year plus one day in prison by Judge Anthony W. Ishii of the Eastern District of California. Their request for probation was denied. Because the maximum possible sentence for their crimes is three years, some tax professionals are of the opinion that the couple got off easy.

In addition to the prison time, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have been ordered to pay $709,675 in restitution damages and $2.5 million in FBAR penalties to the United States Treasury.

In 2011, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts plead guilty to filing false income tax returns for tax years 2004-2008. The couple had both individual and corporate bank accounts at Switzerland's UBS as well as several other foreign accounts in Isle of Man, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The 366 day prison term matches the longest prison term ordered for offshore tax evasion since the investigation of UBS was initiated. Given the age of the taxpayers, the Roberts' lawyer, Nina Marino, has called the prison sentence "a travesty of justice." Nevertheless, it is demonstrative of the U.S. government's concerted effort to bring offshore tax dollars back home with expanded voluntary disclosure options and harsh consequences for those who choose not to disclose.

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